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HS2: we want more disruption, says Camden council

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HS2 Euston interior, Grimshaw architects, Sep 2015

Camden council have “warned” that HS2 Ltd’s latest plans for Euston station, to be submitted to Parliament next week (‘HS2 Euston 4.0’?), “will bring more than a decade of blight without any benefit to London unless there is a commitment to the redevelopment of the entire Euston station and a joined up approach to the delivery of station proposals”. The plans are proposed for inclusion in the High Speed Rail (London – West Midlands) Bill by means of an Additional Provision which is due to be deposited later this month, subject to the approval of Parliament.

[London, 8 September 2015
HS2: Government’s Euston plans “let down Londoners”, say Camden Council, extracts]

Camden Council have warned that HS2 Ltd.’s plans for Euston Station will bring more than a decade of blight without any benefit to London unless there is a commitment to the redevelopment of the entire Euston station and a joined up approach to the delivery of station proposals.

Government changes to the London terminus for High Speed 2 (HS2) announced today (Tuesday, 8 September) in Additional Provision 3 (AP3) to the HS2 Bill show the new HS2 tracks being built in two phases, with no timescale, funding or design specified for the redevelopment of the existing Euston Station.

The Euston Area Plan, adopted by Camden Council and the Greater London Authority, shows how up to 3,800 homes, up to 14,100 new jobs and new open space could be achieved through comprehensive development at Euston with the HS2 tracks and existing tracks all on one level.

By not guaranteeing comprehensive development, the Government’s plan risks creating a disjointed station with tracks on different levels that divides communities and fails to enhance the Euston area. The current plans could limit development opportunities, prevent easy access through the station in all directions to the surrounding area and potentially throw away up to 6,000 jobs, 1,000 homes and £400m of economic value.

As expected, the new Euston plans are quite vague, with a large ‘can-kicking’ aspect. The ‘phased’ development does have the atout of allowing headaches on HS2 phase two and over-site development to be left to somebody else.

Camden New Journal, new Euston plan coverage, 08 Sep 2015

[HS2 plans can unlock Euston potential, HS2 Ltd, 8 Sep 2015]

[…] Eleven new platforms for HS2 will be built at the station in two stages as part of a phased approach that means less disruption for passengers. The plans […] also offer the flexibility to transform the station into a thriving transport and community hub.

The new Euston station will provide high speed rail services from London to the Midlands, the North and Scotland. The latest plans, produced by HS2 Ltd following extensive work with rail industry partners and taking into account the aspiration for wider redevelopment, will unlock the potential at the site of the capital’s greatest regeneration opportunity.

The provision of underpinning support structures as part of the plans will allow a range of uses above the station, delivering the flexibility for a future decision on the wider redevelopment and regeneration of the area.

As well as the 11 high speed platforms provided by the new plan, 11 platforms will remain in the current station to serve the existing network. There will be new public spaces for shops, restaurants and cafes.

[…] Simon Kirby, HS2 Ltd Chief Executive, said:

These firm proposals will allow Euston to fulfil its potential.

It’s time for Euston to change. Not just if it is to fulfil its historic role as the gateway between London and much of the rest of the country, but also if it’s to become a much bigger and fully accessible part of its own community.

Just a stone’s throw away, we have seen how the stations at King’s Cross and St. Pancras have transformed the surrounding areas into vibrant and thriving locations.

In essence, Camden council are complaining about the disruption of redeveloping Euston, while arguing that there should be more redevelopment (and disruption).

Why Simon Kirby regards the Kings Cross / St Pancras redevelopments as a ‘success’, is difficult to understand. Because of botched decision-making, at neither station is there the possibility of much expansion of main line rail capacity.

Privatisation of public space: the Kings Cross redevelopment

Privatisation of public space: the Kings Cross redevelopment

Written by beleben

September 8, 2015 at 12:29 pm

Posted in HS2

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Camden to the rescue

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As the HS2 project teeters on the edge of self-destruction, a perhaps unexpected would-be saviour has emerged, in the form of Camden council. It has effectively dropped its opposition to the scheme, and is co-operating with Network Rail and HS2 Ltd. The U-turn appears to be confirmed by news that the council is “pressing ahead quickly” with contract plans to ‘decant’ households from their existing accommodation by the summer of 2017.

Written by beleben

November 26, 2014 at 12:22 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

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Open your heart to HS2

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Adonis Euston wrecking ballIn January 2012, HS2 granddaddy Lord Adonis told the BBC his new railway was needed “despite the £10bn upgrade on the West Coast Mainline, and performing ‘open heart surgery on a Victorian railway’ would not solve capacity problems on the existing network”.

The truth, of course, is that

  • there was no “£10 billion upgrade” on the West Coast Main Line — most of the money was spent on renewals and maintenance catch-up
  • HS2 could not “solve capacity problems on the existing network” — because the biggest capacity problems are on lines south and east of London


  • constructing HS2 would mean prolonged and massive open heart surgery on the existing railway. Most notably, at Euston — the busiest point on the West Coast Main Line — and at Crewe.

Building HS2 would be far more disruptive to the transport network than upgrading existing trackage. For all its faults, the October 2014 HS2 Stoke Route business case did highlight the huge disruption involved in the David Higgins / Cheshire East “Basford parkway” scheme.

Written by beleben

October 17, 2014 at 10:05 am

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

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The westside massive

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HS2 Ltd, Euston station, revised proposal, April 2013

HS2 officials have admitted they scrapped their plan to replace and rebuild Euston Station in favour of a west side build-on after underestimating the cost by £500 million, the Camden New Journal revealed.

Published: 18 April, 2013

[…]The extraordinary oversight was confirmed in a public meeting at Maria Fidelis Secondary School tonight (Thursday).

After working with contractors Arup, HS2 has been forced to radically rethink its plans. Designs were finally unveiled to the public for the first time tonight after weeks of rumour and speculation.
Tonight’s public meeting heard from HS2’s chief engineer that 300 lorries a day would come to Euston during 10 years of works.

Eleven new platforms would be tacked onto the west side of Euston Station, replacing Cardington Street, St James’s Gardens and Euston Square.

The National Temperance Hospital site – originally planned for replacement social housing for 500 families who are being forced to leave their homes – would be used for HS2 admin’ offices. There is no commitment to rehouse families in Camden.

On 19 April, HS2 Ltd issued the following press release.


19 April 2013

Euston Station will be redeveloped and improved to become the gateway to the great cities of the Midlands and North as part of plans for HS2. And under new proposals this could be achieved without the need to lower and rebuild all the existing platforms – minimising disruption to commuters and residents.

Euston Station will be the terminus for High Speed Two, but further work done by HS2 Ltd to look at the best way to accommodate high speed trains has found most of the benefits for Euston could be achieved without having to knock down and rebuild the entire station.

In January 2012, the Government published plans for the first phase of High Speed Two (HS2) between London and the West Midlands. This plan envisaged a complete rebuild of Euston Station, including all existing platforms.
However, further work on design and engineering has found the project can deliver wide-ranging opportunities and improvements on time but without the disruption caused by lowering all of the platforms into the ground, and in doing so achieve best value for money for taxpayers.

This option, developed partly in response to concerns from the community about the potential disruption caused by redevelopment that would have taken more than a decade, would obviate the need to rebuild all the existing platforms. This would lead to less disruption for passengers as the station – the sixth busiest on Britain’s rail network – could continue to operate mostly as normal rather than having to move services from old platforms to new ones while platforms are being progressively demolished and rebuilt.

The proposals would still see the station revitalised for passengers and with potential for new homes, offices and shops above. Completing construction by 2026 will unlock the line-wide benefits as soon as practicable.
The revised proposal features:

Potential opportunities for over-station development – with the possibility of being used for future homes, open space and businesses.

The capacity needed for high speed and conventional trains

New platforms and facilities for the high-speed trains

New, improved facilities for all passengers in a redeveloped, integrated station with a new, combined concourse and façade
Better connections with the Underground, including a new Underground ticket hall

A sub-surface pedestrian link between Euston and Euston Square Tube

East-west pedestrian routes across the station, helping to link communities on either side of the station.

This revised option will be included in the draft environmental statement for the first phase of HS2, which will be published in the next couple of months, and be subject to public consultation before any decision is made.

HS2 Ltd acknowledges the work done into the potential of the area around and above Euston as part of Camden Council’s Euston Area Plan which shows there is considerable demand for locations immediately around and above the Euston area with significant employment and training opportunities. An economic report prepared for the Euston Area Plan found commercial development would be viable in the Euston area.

HS2 Ltd Chief Executive Alison Munro said:

“HS2 will be an engine for growth that supports the creation of thousands of jobs for Londoners, provides extra space on the existing lines for more commuter services, and improved connectivity with our great northern cities.

“Community concerns have been raised about the potential disruption caused by the redevelopment of Euston Station. Following more work done by our engineers to find the best way to deliver best value for taxpayers, we have identified an option that we believe delivers great opportunities for the area while minimising the potential effects on local communities in Camden and on passengers.

“We are looking at an option for Euston Station which would see new platforms built as part of an integrated, redeveloped station with a combined concourse, new western entrance and improved facilities across the integrated terminus.

“Economic work done as part of Camden Council’s plan for the area has demonstrated that there is a case for major redevelopment with the potential for commercial investment, and we want to look at these opportunities with Camden. We also realise the importance Camden Council places on over-station development, and our proposal for Euston enables this, with potential for future homes, businesses and open space.

“Whatever option is adopted, Euston would be the gateway to the Midlands and North with improved facilities for passengers and better connections with the Underground.”

The proposal HS2 Ltd has developed for Euston Station involves:

Retaining platforms 1-15 (of Euston’s 18 platforms) at their current level with some modifications (this includes removing platforms 9 and 10 so that adjacent platforms can be lengthened – resulting in 13 long platforms) but improving the station around them – with a new concourse

Building 11 new platforms for high speed trains next to the existing platforms.

HS2 Ltd is working closely with stakeholders on the design of Euston Station, recognising the need to keep on time and budget while delivering value for money for the taxpayer.

While Alison Munro’s statement claimed that the rethink had been prompted by “community concerns”, all the evidence points towards unrealistic cost and build-time estimates. And it’s unlikely that such “misunderestimates” are confined to the Euston element of HS2. The entire high speed project is beset with problems.

[London Assembly Liberal Democrat group leader Caroline Pidgeon, quoted in the Camden New Journal, 18 Apr 2013]

“They [HS2 Ltd] haven’t engaged with us. They refused to come before the committee I chaired a year or so ago. They don’t even sell their project – I don’t understand the politics of that. They have been appalling.”

Written by beleben

April 19, 2013 at 11:33 am

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

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The only way is disruption

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Camden councillor Paul Braithwaite, the Liberal Democrat shadow for HS2 and Transport, has written to the New Journal stating that the borough should reject HS2 Ltd’s proposed Euston “cheapskate lean-to, which is the worst of all worlds, and demand doing the job properly by double-decking down”.

[‘Cheapskate’ Euston plan is dire, Published: 11 April, 2013]

[…] Two years ago there were attractive artist impressions of a grand new design for Euston, with acres of space, permeability, glazing, offices and homes above. Gone!

What councillors learned on April 3 was that we’re now expected to settle for a lean-to new station to be built alongside a largely unchanged Euston.
The reasons given were that the grand vision couldn’t be built for the budget and couldn’t be openable on time in 2026.

Given that refurbishing the BBC’s building at Langham Place cost £1.3 billion, then £1.15 billion to build the replacement station was clearly cloud-cuckoo land.

Camden has to demand that HS2 Ltd and government think again on Euston’s budget and timetable.

Eurostar ran into Waterloo for several years until the gloriously rejuvenated St Pancras was ready.

There’s no reason why HS2 should not run, at first, only from Old Oak Common, where Crossrail will open in 2018, up to Birmingham.

If Euston takes three years longer to build properly so be it. A new Euston could still be opened years before the full HS2 ‘Y’ to Manchester and Leeds starts service.

What’s called for at Euston is an exciting architectural gem – a regenerated single station with homes, offices, shops and offices above.

All we’re being offered is that platforms 1-15 remain as is, in their grubby, gloomy, state which would make it nigh impossible to build above; a lost opportunity for decades to come.

If New York could construct 27 lower-level platforms under its magnificent Grand Central Station more than 100 years ago, it must be possible for engineers to do as the Pan-Camden HS2 Alliance’s (PCHS2A) experts propose and double-deck Euston downwards (DDD).

Of course, it would cost more and take longer, but being able to build homes and offices above would benefit Camden hugely.
Camden needs to reject the proposed cheapskate lean-to, which is the worst of all worlds, and demand doing the job properly by double-decking down. […]

I don’t think what happened in New York a hundred years ago has that much relevance. In 21st century Europe and North America, urban railway infrastructure is not commissioned by private companies. The costs are way too large.

The details of HS2 Ltd’s Euston lean-to option haven’t been made public, and not much more is known about the Pan Camden HS2 Alliance’s ‘Double Deck Downwards‘ scheme.

What is known is that

  1. there is no transport requirement to rebuild the existing station, with or without HS2
  2. most “architectural gem” intercity rail stations (e.g. Berlin Hauptbahnhof, Lisboa Oriente,
    Liege Guillemins) do not feature acres of massive concrete rafts over the platforms, as was planned for the Euston ‘ground zero’ scheme.

What is the feasibility, disruption intensity, and value for money, of Euston ‘Double Deck Downwards’? Probably, not all that different from the Y network itself.

Written by beleben

April 12, 2013 at 10:59 am

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HS2 Euston gets weirder

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On 3 April 2013, a scaled-back ‘cheapskate’ version of the planned Euston HS2 railway terminal was presented to councillors in a “private meeting” at Camden Town Hall, the Camden New Journal’s Tom Foot reported.

The New Journal revealed last month how the government-funded HS2 Ltd was changing direction over its massive demolition plan after realising the £33 billion project was running late and already around 30 per cent over budget.

The original plan was to build a brand-new Euston Station for the controversial link to Birmingham with underground railway lines, leaving an area the size of 17 football pitches for redevelopment.

[…] Speaking after the two-hour meeting, attended by around 20 councillors, Town Hall leader Sarah Hayward said: “The reaction at the meeting was that this is incredibly disappointing and frustrating.

“The single discernible benefit from HS2 was the over-station development. But with this new station Camden will get all of the demolition, all the construction, all the disruption, with no gains for the communities, no jobs or affordable homes.”

The new scheme would see Cardington Street and St James’s Gardens public park – a consecrated burial ground believed to hold the remains of tens of thousands of bodies – bulldozed and replaced by six new tracks.

Hundreds of homes on the Regent’s Park Estate threatened by the scheme would still be demolished under the revised plan. There is no guarantee the residents affected would be rehoused in Camden.

If it weren’t for the scale of the cost underestimation, it would be easy to view the ‘Euston annexe’ concept as a HS2 Ltd masterstroke to get Camden councillors on-side for the original ‘ground zero’ scheme. And effectively, some councillors are now backing a ‘max disruption’ scheme instead of articulating the fact that, annexe or rebuild, HS2 means years of disruption and no benefit for the average Camden resident. Even the ‘cheapskate’ annexe scheme could come in at somewhere between £1 and £2 billion, when the reconstruction of Euston / Euston Square Underground is included.

Written by beleben

April 5, 2013 at 11:54 am

Posted in High speed rail, HS2, London, Politics

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HS2 and London blight

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BBC London report on HS2, 3 April 2012On 3 April, BBC London television news looked at the impact of HS2 in London. Their report included an interview with a resident of the Camden flats slated for demolition to make room for expansion of Euston station.

Not surprisingly, residents are perplexed as to why their neighbourhood should be razed to allow people to get to Birmingham twenty minutes quicker. There may be complaints about crowding and fares, but most travellers would probably be satisfied with the existing journey time (of under an hour and a half), providing the reliability was there. Crowding and fares could be fixed for considerably less than the £20 billion cost of the new build track. So HS2 might be described as “production led” rather than “market led” infrastructure.

Also featured was Camden councillor Sarah Hayward, who mentioned the blight effects caused by uncertainty. As in Birmingham, the zone potentially affected by HS2 in Camden is considerably larger than the land required for the line itself. Birmingham’s Island House, arguably the first property demolished because of HS2, did not stand within the revealed footprint of the proposed Curzon Street station.

Written by beleben

April 4, 2012 at 9:17 pm

Euston and Greengauge 21

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According to Jim Steer’s Greengauge 21, there is scope to reduce the project costs of HS2 by smart planning: 

for instance by adopting the Network Rail scheme to take existing commuter services out of Euston and connect them into Crossrail instead. This would save costs and reduce disruption  –  and even bring forward the project completion date.

Proposed London Superlink network schematicThe plan to route Milton Keynes/Northampton WCML commuter trains away from Euston, and into Crossrail, has been around for a long time. It was included in the 2004 Superlink regional rail system, proposed by John Prideaux and Michael Schabas.

According to Mr Schabas, Steer Davies Gleave (Jim Steer’s company) prepared a report for Canary Wharf Group Plc, which attacked the Superlink concept of a ‘regional Crossrail’, and taking Milton Keynes commuter traffic out of Euston. As with the Milton Keynes connection, extension of Crossrail to Reading would have important connectivity benefits, and help balance the western and eastern traffic on the system. But in the Guardian in 2007, Mr Steer was quoted as saying that there was “no basis” for extending Crossrail to Reading.

Reconstruction of Euston carries huge risks, and HS2 Ltd has agreed that it has not monetised its economic disruption effects. In its present form, Crossrail’s configuration would make poor use of the expensive tunnel being built under central London. By moving West Midlands intercity services to the Chiltern Line, and moving Milton Keynes commuter services into Crossrail, there would no longer be any requirement to rebuild and disrupt Euston station (or build HS2).

Written by beleben

January 11, 2012 at 1:34 pm

Eusless planning at Euston, part 2

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Euston station after reconstruction with HS2 platforms

Last month, I outlined what HS2 project would mean for Euston station, and the borough of Camden. The official diagram of the disposition of platforms at Euston after its proposed reconstruction shows twelve HS2 platforms on its western side, two of them also usable by conventional services. There would be twelve dedicated West Coast Main Line platforms, on the eastern side.

The HS2 scheme involves stopping trains at Old Oak Common as well as Euston, so not all of its traffic pressure would be on the Camden terminus. But it also entails channelling fast services from the East Midlands, Yorkshire, and North East England, into Euston (rather than St Pancras and Kings Cross, as has been the case for the last hundred years). This means that much larger numbers of people would be passing through the station, with substantial planning and cost implications. Politicians and HS2 planners appear not be fully cognisant of these.

The idea that all these destinations could be served from twelve platforms just doesn’t seem to have been thought through. And with Euston’s conventional platform capacity reduced by a third, the claims about ‘more services’ on the West Coast Line (to destinations like Milton Keynes, Northampton and Tamworth) look increasingly problematic.

Written by beleben

June 8, 2011 at 8:26 pm