Unde este Tring?
In August 2014 the then transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin popped down to the Farringdon Crossrail building site, to tell its largely eastern European workforce that he was thinking of having the service extended to Tring.
What Ștefan from Timişoara, or Piotr from Gdańsk, made of this visit, is not recorded. “Who is this man?“, or “Where is Tring?“, perhaps. But apparently, Crossrail to Tring was intended to
- make building HS2 less disruptive by taking some trains out of Euston
- reduce journey times for commuters to central London.
But on 5 August 2016, Hemel Today reported that Mr McLoughlin had written to Hemel Hempstead MP Mike Penning to say the scheme has been pulled because it represented “poor overall value for money to the taxpayer”.
[Crossrail off the tracks as plans are shelved, Hemel Today, 2016-08-05]
Although the letter [from Mr McLoughlin] explicitly mentions Tring, Mr Penning said he was trying to find out what it meant for other stops along the line.
The news comes as a blow to commuters, who thought the extension would take the pressure off the line into Euston during the construction of the HS2 high-speed rail link.
As the Beleben blog pointed out at the time, Crossrail 1 to Tring could not offer much disruption alleviation for HS2. When the government eventually realised that, they pulled the plug.
However, it is interesting to consider the connectivity benefits of allowing commuter trains to serve a number of locations in the centre of London. According to the Department for Transport, Tring Crossrail via Old Oak Common would have meant ‘faster journeys to central London’ than via Euston. But the Department contrarily claimed that HS2 and Crossrail, changing at Old Oak Common, would mean ‘slower journeys to central London’, than via Euston.
What is the likely explanation for this doublethink?
If HS2 were terminated at Old Oak Common, the land grab at Euston would be in jeopardy. That fact must lie behind all the mendacity and dissemblance about ‘journey times’, and suchlike.