Tuesday, 11 February 2014

HS2 news

There have been some possible developments with regards to HS2's scope and cost reductions. But first, I should set the scene a little.

The HS1 line from the Channel Tunnel to London terminates at St Pancras station, in the north of the city, whilst the planned HS2 line from the north to London will end at Euston, about half a mile to the west of St Pancras.

It was envisaged that most of the demand on HS2 would be trains to the north from London. To enable a few through trains from the continent, a £400 million link was planned from the HS1 line north of St Pancras to the HS2 line north of Euston. This is a very limited kludge: it is a single-track alongside the existing North London Line. To make matters worse, the HS2 line is expected to be very busy in terms of services when it opens, meaning that there would be few opportunities for such trains anyway.

It was reported in the Times at the weekend that this link may now be dropped. I am fairly unconcerned about this: if such a link is to be built then it really should be done properly. Scrapping the link costs will decrease by £400 million, and many of the objectors such as Stanley Johnson (Boris Johnson's father) with houses near the link route may become more muted.

Politically, it is much more important. One of the selling points of HS2 to northern constituencies is that they would be able to have direct rail services from Europe. With the abandonment of the link, this promise is more or less broken. Worse, it will be much harder to build after phase 1 without causing massive chaos on the operating line. If it is to be built, it really needs to be built at the same time as phase 1.

In other news, the Guardian has an interesting article on the way that HS2 costs could be reduced by looking at the continental experience.

No comments: