Reasonable and unreasonable walks
On 11 October, Professor Andrew McNaughton, the government’s “technical expert” on high speed rail, more or less told the House of Lords HS2 LWM committee that Old Oak Common could not be the terminus for HS2.
One of the unconvincing reasons put forward by the Professor was the limited connectivity of the Old Oak site.
[House of Lords, MINUTES OF ORAL EVIDENCE taken before the HIGH SPEED RAIL COMMITTEE on the HIGH SPEED RAIL (LONDON – WEST MIDLANDS) BILL Tuesday 11 October 2016[…]
IN ATTENDANCE: […] Sir Tim Lankester and John Neve (Albert Street North Residents’ Association) Professor Andrew McNaughton (Technical Director, HS2) […]
Oral evidence – High Speed Rail (London – West Midlands) Bill – 11 Oct 2016]
165. [ANDREW McNAUGHTON:] The one thing I would say is the single mode failure, which is – and I’ll use probably an unfortunate term here – but a person under a train in the area of Crossrail will bring Crossrail to a stand. At that point, there is no connectivity for anybody on High Speed 2 if the only station available is Old Oak Common. We don’t wish Crossrail to have a suspension of service, but there will be occasions when it does, because that’s what happens with railways. At that point, not only will the Great Western be stopped, but High Speed 2 will be stopped. Depositing people at Old Oak Common and asking them to wander up the road to Acton underground station seems not something you’d plan as a passenger operation.
166. SIR TIM LANKESTER: 800 metres to North Acton underground station isn’t unbearable in extremis. Likewise, I believe there’s going to be a station on the London Overground by 2026.
167. PROF MCNAUGHTON: I will leave you to your own judgment of what is reasonable to ask long-distance passengers to undertake, with their luggage and their children and their mobility needs. I’ll leave it at that.
HS2 is being designed for 400-metre long trains – and platforms. People at the London end of a Birmingham-bound train would face a platform walk of up to ~400 metres, on arrival at Curzon.
In Birmingham, the distance between the classic platforms at New Street station, and the entrance to the HS2 platforms at Curzon terminus, would be (at least) 400 metres.
So an 800-metre walk, or thereabouts, would an everyday feature of HS2 interchange in Birmingham.
Apparently then, in the view of Prof McNaughton, an ‘everyday’ 800-metre walk in Birmingham would be reasonable, but an 800-metre walk ‘when-Crossrail-is-down’ in London, would be unreasonable.
Improving local transport links to places in west London – such as Old Oak – would make much more sense, and offer much better value for money, than building HS2 between Old Oak and Euston.
One ‘no-walk’ option would be to build a branch of London Underground’s Central Line from east Acton into Old Oak, and perhaps beyond.