High Speed Rail

Written evidence from the London Borough of Camden (HSR 134)

Whilst the Transport Select Committee will be examining specific issues as set out in the terms of reference there are a number of significant concerns that Camden will be making representation on in our response to the HS2 consultation undertaken by DfT. These will be forwarded to the Select Committee before 29 July 2011 and the committee is urged to give this detailed assessment full consideration.

4 - The Strategic Route

The proposed route to the West Midlands has stations at Euston, Old Oak Common, Birmingham International and Birmingham Curzon Street. Are these the best possible locations? What criteria should be used to assess the case for more (or fewer) intermediate stations?

1. Euston – The proposed main terminus of HS2 is at Euston which was selected by HS2 Ltd following their assessment of 27 locations across London including Paddington, Kings Cross, St Pancras, Old Oak Common, Stratford and Liverpool Street. The HS2 Ltd requirements for a terminus included the provision of sufficient space for 10 high speed platforms, access and dispersal areas, good public transport links and minimal impact on surrounding area. .HS2 Ltd has not provided sufficient detail or justification as to why alternative locations for the terminus were discounted. As a result, there is currently insufficient evidence to take an informed view as to whether Euston is the most appropriate location for that terminus.

2. It should be noted that prior to HS2 proposals, TfL and Network Rail were working on options to redevelop Euston station to address the existing overcrowding within the station. It is likely that a project to provide additional station capacity would have increased the station footprint (but to a significantly lesser extent than HS2 propose and only to the south). The HS2 proposals at Euston would mean demolition of existing buildings (between 190 and 350 Council homes), loss of designated open space, and major construction disruptions over many years. These impacts are clearly significant and of great concern for affected communities and businesses.

3. The HS2 proposals would lead to all platforms and train lines at Euston to be lowered to below ground level and the ground level would become a large area for development (approximately 65% the size of King’s Cross Central). Should the project go ahead HS2 future proposals would need to include space to re-provide homes for people displaced, provide new homes, employment opportunities, shops and new open space.

4. Whilst the principle of providing a central London terminus for HS2 may have passenger benefits, there is currently insufficient evidence to take an informed view as to whether Euston is the most appropriate location for that terminus or that the benefits would outweigh the significant negative impacts on the local community. Should HS2 go ahead, there are a number of issues that will need to be addressed, such as re-provision of housing and designated open space.

5. A further important issue would be the onward distribution of HS2 passengers potentially coming into Euston. Analysis undertaken as part of developing the Central London Transport Plan shows that whilst additional capacity is currently being provided on the transport network this will soon be absorbed by the increased demand as a result of population and employment growth and consequently there will still be significant pressure points on the network. Therefore how the onward journeys are going to be accommodated and any upgrades funded, is a key consideration as to whether Euston is the right location for the HS2 terminus. Potential solutions that could accommodate the likely future demand at Euston would be the implementation of Crossrail 2 (Chelsea – Hackney line) and the DLR extension between Bank and Euston to address the effective dispersal of passengers. These need to included in and funded from any business case associated with High Speed rail at Euston before any decision to proceed is made.

6. Old Oak Common – The case for Old Oak Common as a terminus would remove the need for significant demolition and disruption at Euston as well as reducing the overall project costs significantly. The Council recognises that TfL have undertaken assessments that highlight concerns about Crossrail having sufficient capacity to cope with the extra passenger demand from HS2 between Old Oak Common, Paddington and Central London. Further consideration is required by TfL and HS2 Ltd to resolve if Old Oak Common would be an appropriate terminus for HS2.

7. The option for an intermediate station at Old Oak Common provides an opportunity to provide good connections to the High Speed and classic rail network without the need for some passengers to use Euston, the Underground or other rail termini. The HS2 proposals would see services on both First Great Western and Heathrow Express stopping at Old Oak Common providing direct connections to Heathrow and the west. An Old Oak Common station would help to reduce crowding at Paddington and Euston. The station is also proposed to have an interchange with Crossrail and the North London Line which has further benefits for passengers and congestion relief on the Underground.

8. There are some concerns that providing a station at Old Oak Common would detract from the case to increase the use of Stratford International for High Speed services. However, Stratford station does not provide the same connectivity or congestion relief for passengers to/from the west of London.

9. There is a good case for an intermediate and interchange station at Old Oak Common and there should be further consideration by TfL and HS2 Ltd to resolve if Old Oak Common would be an appropriate terminus for HS2.

Is the Government correct to build the network in stages, moving from London northwards?

10. The existing West Coast Main Line (WCML) serving Birmingham and Manchester is already overcrowded despite recent major enhancements. The overwhelming existing passenger demand is from and to London rather than between other regional cities. Therefore there is a clear logic to build the network in stages starting in London to relieve the pressure on the WCML.

11. It is vital that if the proposals were to go ahead that the construction phasing does not result in any significant periods of line closures as these local services provide essential transport links for people to access employment and local services. In addition the construction phases, should HS2 proceed, need to be co-ordinated with other upgrade / maintenance works to the transport infrastructure, such as the underground upgrades, so that a level of service to all areas is maintained throughout.

The Government proposes a link to HS1 as part of Phase 1 but a direct link to Heathrow only as part of Phase 2. Are those the right decisions?

12. HS2 / HS1 link – The council is concerned about the proposal by HS2 to connect HS1 via the North London Line (NLL). The current proposal would have a single track tunnel from Old Oak Common and then use track on the NLL. This could impact on capacity and services on the NLL which may need to be reduced to accommodate high speed trains.

13. The NLL has seen considerable investment in recent years to upgrade capacity and reliability on the line. The recent upgrade to rolling stock and infrastructure has contributed to significant extra demand which is forecast to increase. There are concerns about the impact on constraining future capacity enhancements to the NLL. There is concern about the impact of the proposed link on the NLL service patterns and the degree of alteration which would be needed to the existing NLL to allow the operation of High Speed trains. This could involve bridge or tunnel widening or additional track side infrastructure. The impact of these proposals on Camden's other transports networks ( e.g. the strategic route network, footpaths, cycle paths, bus services) and development sites (e.g Hawley wharf) and open spaces adjacent to the line is not currently clear and needs to be incorporated into any proper assessment of the HS1 link. 

14. Analysis undertaken by London Rail shows that with the existing infrastructure only one high speed train per hour would be able to use this link. However, the current proposal by HS2 is to allow 3 trains per hour to connect to HS1 at substantial cost. The issues are:

· There is no detail on the demand analysis for through running trains. The analysis needs to clearly demonstrate the benefits of such a direct link outweigh the costs and impacts on the local community.

· Lack of consideration of a link that would not impact on the NLL and allow HS2 and HS1 to link to a wider domestic high speed network in the future.

· Providing the HS2/HS1 link via a single track on the NLL provides no resilience in the network and alternative options should be considered that provides a resilient network and provides a network to future standards.

· Further technical details are needed on the link to fully understand its impacts including: its alignment, specifications and impact on bridges and structures. It is understood that HS2 Ltd are undertaking further work on how this link would be delivered. However, this it is understood that this level of detail will not be available before the closing date for the public consultation responses.

15. The council’s preference is that if the proposals were to go ahead that a link between HS1 and HS2 is provided that is able to cope with future passenger demand and to enable a more comprehensive High Speed network in the future. As part of this the it is essential that businesses cases for additional network investment, both on existing networks (e.g. reinstate plans to extend 4 tracks to Camden Road) and the possible Crossrail 2 and DLR extension from Bank to Euston are considered alongside HS2, not in isolation. In the absence of this the HS proposal will have significant negative impacts.

16. In addition agencies such as Central Government, GLA, London Councils and London Boroughs will need to work together to understand the wider development of the UK’s and London transport network to maximise the network benefits of HS2 not just for High Sped Rail. For example improvements to local and inter-regional services should be delivered at the same time as creating a HS2 / HS1 link.

17. Heathrow link - There is a clear rationale for providing an interchange to Heathrow via Old Oak Common rather than a direct link on HS2. These issues are as follows:

· A station at Heathrow would increase journey times for all through passengers

· The Old Oak Common interchange would enable HS2 to connect with the Heathrow Express and Crossrail which would be high frequency and provide a relatively fast journey time at a significantly reduced cost than a direct HS2 link.

· An additional station at Old Oak Common would relieve the pressure on Euston as not all passengers on HS2 would go into central London

· Those passengers who are most likely to transfer to high speed rail from air are unlikely to be influenced by how HS2 serves Heathrow (i.e. Heathrow is not a destination in itself)

· It is not certain that passengers who currently fly from regional airports to Heathrow in order to transfer to long haul flights would necessarily switch to high speed rail for this part of their journey. In addition, given that HS2 is already planned to serve Birmingham International the case for connecting Heathrow Airport is far from clear.

18. In future the case for a direct link from HS2 to Heathrow as part of phase 2 may be greater, however, at this time it is understood that the HS2 Ltd’s modelling results for phase 2 are not available. Therefore there remains a case to include passive provision for such a link as part of a later phase.

5 Economic Rebalancing and equity

How should the Government ensure that all major beneficiaries of HSR (including local authorities and business interests) make an appropriate financial contribution and bear risks appropriately? Should the Government seek support from the EU’s TEN-T programme?

19. If the HS2 project progresses it should be primarily funded by the Government using private finance initiative from a combination of long-term train operating contracts and maintenance contracts in a similar method to that used to finance HS1. A significant portion of the funding for the project should also be sought from Europe as HS2 would be a key element of an efficient trans-European transport network which is a key element in the relaunched Lisbon strategy for competitiveness and employment in Europe. If Europe is to fulfill its economic and social potential, it is essential to build the missing links and remove the bottlenecks in our transport infrastructure, as well as to ensure the sustainability of our transport networks into the future. Funding from fares is also a likely to be a key element of the financing package.

20. Camden has strong concerns about the Government introducing a development tariff similar to the Crossrail levy. Current experience shows that the Crossrail levy is already impacting on our ability to provide affordable homes which is a major concern for the Council for many years to come. A similar levy for HS2 would severely restrict our ability to address the affordable homes issue over the longer term which would have negative impacts on London’s residents and workforce. In addition, the funding of HS2 is likely to draw funding away from other transport improvements e.g. investment in tube and station upgrades.

21. Other suggestions for financing HS2 should include additional passenger aviation taxes on short haul flights covered by High Speed Rail. This would have the added benefit of encouraging a greater shift to HS1 and HS2 thereby increasing their profitability.

22. It is vital that the funding for HS2 adequately takes into account the required investment in the area most impacted by the changed Euston Station, and in the wider impacts upon the London transport system – including local public realm and walking and cycling links. In transport terms this infrastructure need would include ensuring that all related public transport infrastructure projects are fully funded by any High Speed rail proposal.

6. Impact

23. Overall impact of high speed rail on carbon emissions – There is no definitive information on the environmental case for or against HS2 that assesses environmental impacts on HS2 against business as usual or alternative transport options, taking account of all whole life cost impacts and benefits. Therefore further, detailed analysis taking into account all of the factors needs to be completed. Therefore at this stage the case does not appear to be made.

24. Impact on existing services at Euston during construction – HS2 proposes to undertake the redevelopment of Euston in phases to minimise disruption to existing services and passengers and to keep the station operating. As a result, the proposal is to extend the station to the west initially to provide temporary platforms for the existing services to operate whilst the remaining platforms and new station were constructed. A similar phased approach was taken to the construction at St Pancras which broadly worked well. Camden would want to see details of the construction programme, as currently there is no indication of how the work would be phased and for how much of the 7 – 8 year programme services to and from Euston will be impacted. Camden would want to ensure that passengers and residents are not adversely affected during construction.

25. During the construction phase and in the longer term there are concerns about the impact of HS2 on the ‘classic’ services between Watford and Euston. Should the project progress, there would need to be a high degree of confidence that there would be no significant negative impacts on these suburban services as they provide vital transport links. In addition there are links to the underground network as if these overground services were not provided these passengers would be displaced onto the underground network, which is already operating at capacity.

26. Whilst the terms of reference for the Transport Select Committee specifically ask a question regarding the level of disruption during the construction of HS2 there are potential longer term impacts on services operating to and from Euston as a result of HS2 proposals. A potential negative consequence of the HS2 proposal is that the overall capacity at Euston and on the approach for WCML services will be reduced. The potential for conflict between trains arriving and departing could increase resulting in delay and reduced reliability.

27. Impact on the Euston area. The construction of the proposed Euston Station will mean significant negative impacts on the lives of residents and the viability of businesses in the Euston Area. This threatens the overall functioning of Euston as a place and the potential blight arising from the proposals will stymie investment prior to and during construction. This will be to the detriment of the communities in and around the proposed station.

Conclusion

28. Camden  opposes the HS2 and the terminus at Euston Station. There would be negative impacts on residents including the loss of peoples homes, businesses and communities in the area. The proposals are not justified in transport or impact terms. There is also inadequate information to explain how an unacceptable impact on the existing public transport network would be addressed. Given this lack of evidence and the scale of the negative impacts in the Euston area the case for to terminating the High Speed line here is not made. In addition l ong-term projects of this type carry a risk of planning blight, Euston and the surrounding area would be negatively impacted.

29. The proposal from HS2 Ltd does not provide adequate detail or a full comparison of the alternatives which include expanding and enhancing the existing rail network on an incremental basis. A proper assessment of the costs and benefits of upgrading the West Coast Mainline should be undertaken which includes

· Optimising existing capacity by converting some first class carriages to standard class at peak times.

· Operating longer trains, without major infrastructure expenditure

· Infrastructure modifications to selected bottlenecks to increase frequencies.

· Investment into platform lengthening, track reconfiguration and additional platforms where required.

30. Were high speed rail to progress as currently proposed then Camden would need to be convinced that the following needs are addressed at no cost to the Council.

· The replacement of and an increase in the number of affordable homes which are currently proposed to be demolished;

· An improvement in the quality of homes re-provided;

· The funding of all infrastructure upgrades required as a result of HS2

· Re-provision of open space;

· Funding to improve impacted schools;

· Funding for resident support during process, such as West Euston Partnership model;

· A large number of apprenticeships and jobs created for local people.

May 2011

Prepared 10th June 2011