HS2 proposals ‘need work to be right for London’, says Assembly

Although supportive of the principle of high speed rail development, the London Assembly Transport Committee is calling on the Government to rethink its proposals for High Speed 2 to address concerns about the impact on London.

The Committee’s concerns, set out in its response to the government consultation, relate to how the new rail link would affect London’s local communities and existing transport network.

The Committee’s response identifies a number of changes to the route and interchanges in London ‘that are needed’ if HS2 is to go ahead.

The response highlights:

  • The ‘need for a new Tube line’ in the form of Crossrail 2 (Chelsea to Hackney) to address the potential for local transport at Euston to be ‘swamped’ by thousands of extra HS2 passengers.
  • Plans for Euston station that would increase its size by up to a third, with the loss of ‘valuable green space, residential areas and businesses’. The Government is urged to explore alternative designs for the station, such as the continental ’stacking’ of lines, which could reduce the footprint of the new station and minimise the disruption caused during construction and operation.
  • Concerns about plans to run trains above ground through large parts of Hillingdon. The Committee suggests the Government looks at tunnelling this part of the route instead to spare west Londoners the ‘worst of the impact’.
  • The ‘unacceptably adverse affect on London Overground passengers and freight traffic’ that the current plans to link HS2 to HS1 on the North London Line would have.
  • The ‘lack of detail’ about how the interchange at Old Oak Common would work. Members also urge HS2 Ltd to look at Stratford International – which already has most of the infrastructure to accommodate high speed services – as an alternative east London interchange.

Caroline Pidgeon AM, Chair of the Transport Committee, said:

“High speed rail has enormous potential but the current proposals for High Speed 2 fail to properly address the effects it would have on local communities and London’s existing transport network.

“Plans for HS2 need considerable work to make them right for London and we hope to see a far more detailed set of proposals that address all of the issues we’ve raised.

“One of the most critical issues is the absolute necessity of a new Tube line if HS2 goes ahead, so London can cope with the extra passengers it will bring into the capital.”

The Committee also wants the Government to do more to justify HS2 on ‘economic and transport grounds’, and to conduct a detailed evaluation of the additional transport infrastructure needed to make it successful and environmentally sound.

If HS2 goes ahead, the Committee is in ‘broad agreement’ with the proposed phasing of the construction and believes that a Crossrail interchange provides adequate connection to Heathrow during Phase 1.

The response also outlines a range of concerns about the consultation process itself, including the lack of route options, the absence of an Environmental Impact Assessment, and failure to justify key parts of the design specification, including the proposed top speed of 225mph.

The Committee’s response is based on evidence ‘submitted by a range of stakeholders, site visits to Euston and Old Oak Common, and a public hearing with industry experts and passenger representatives – which both HS2 Ltd and the Department for Transport failed to attend’.

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