HS2’s Euston station will only require six platforms instead of the planned 10 if the project’s eastern leg does not go ahead, according to a rail expert. Scrapping HS2 East – the 60km section of the network that connects Birmingham Interchange with West Midlands Parkway – is the latest suggestion to emerge from the Department for Transport (DfT) as it strives to halt the ballooning of costs on the mega project. Independent rail consultant William Barter pointed out that “it’s difficult to see how cancelling the rump of HS2’s eastern leg will save any significant cost, as nothing is being spent on building it yet”. He continued: “Nor has a business case for it yet been developed, so we don’t know what benefits would be lost without it, even if anyone thought that relevant in an exercise simply to avoid cost regardless of the consequences. Even the indicative train services await development, as the ‘can’t decide have one of each’ approach embodied in the Integrated Rail Plan is commercially irrational and operationally impracticable.” However, if the DfT follows through with the decision to scrap HS2 East, there is no need to build the new Euston station as it is currently designed, Barter said. In October last year the government and HS2 Ltd confirmed that the number of platforms at the station would be reduced from 11 to 10 in order to allow construction to take place in one single phase. Cutting the eastern leg would mean that Euston station could be even smaller and therefore would likely save time and money.“The fact that the idea [of scrapping HS2 East] has been raised at all underlines the absurdity of the single-stage, 10-platform build at Euston,” Barter said. “Without the Eastern leg and the Golborne link, Euston doesn’t need even 10 platforms let alone the original 11, so by insisting on building 10 platforms in a single stage we may well end up with a station far bigger than necessary, as well as postponing any meaningful benefits of HS2, both direct and through released capacity, until the whole thing is finished rather than just after a first stage.”
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just six platforms in the first instance. “They will do just fine for the Phase 1 and 2a service [to Birmingham and to Crewe] of 10 trains per hour,” he said. “Then build the others when they are needed, and scoped for what they will actually be used for.” Recent suggestions that HS2’s Euston station could be scrapped entirely were quickly rebuffed by chancellor Jeremy Hunt, but a suggestion that its delivery would be delayed has not been entirely expelled. Building a smaller station could mitigate this.M “A six-platform station would be as per the first stage of the hybrid bill scheme, the one that the £100M had been spent designing and is pretty much shovel ready,” Barter said. “Whereas nearly everything of the 10-platform station needs to be worked out fresh. So we are much further down the road with the six platform station.” He added: “Even if not, there would be some saving from just building the box for the 10-platform station and only fitting out six platforms. But that still leaves meaningful direct and released capacity benefits dependent on the 10-platform box and the delay that implies.” Barter also suggested that the new HS2 super station at Old Oak Common in west London could also be downsized. “Drop the Great Western fast line platforms at Old Oak Common, or just make passive provision to add them in the future,” Barter said. “Now that the Elizabeth Line serves Heathrow, the need to stop the Heathrow Express at Old Oak Common has gone. And if that doesn’t stop, then nothing else on the fast lines is forced to stop.” He continued: “As it is, the biggest flow of passengers through the station will be between the Great Western Fast lines and the Elizabeth line, because that interchange will be a tad easier than at Paddington. That is not a reason for building a great big station.” Among the other suggestions that have emerged from the DfT’s cost cutting attempts is the proposal to ditch the Handsacre link – a connection from HS2’s main line at Handsacre in Staffordhsire to the West Coast Main Line. This will slash journey times from Stone-on-Trent and Stafford to London.
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are to get their promised High Speed service,” Barter said. “But so long as Phase 2a does open at the same time as Phase 1 it will never carry more than one train per hour.” Therefore, money could be saved by building the Handsacre link as a single line. This would not only save on structures and alignment but radically simplify the track layout. “Even in a blockage of one line on the direct route to Crewe, you would run all northbound trains via Handsacre and all southbound trains on the one line of the direct route,” Barter said. There is also a potential cost-cutting opportunity in putting off the Crewe tunnel that has been incorporated in the HS2 Phase 2b bill, between Crewe and Manchester, which is yet to receive royal assent. “Without the Golborne link [which was scrapped in June last year], Euston to Glasgow trains won’t be using it as they will have to be on the classic line North of Crewe,” Barter said. “Euston to Manchester trains can run via Crewe station and back onto HS2 at the North junction, so without the Golborne link the only loss is adding perhaps five or six minutes to the 71-minute timing of Phase 2b.” He continued: “In due course, the Golborne link or whatever substitute can be devised would allow two trains per hour between London and Glasgow, instead of the hourly service that is all the classic route can cope with – that’s when the tunnel has a role as it would probably be difficult to path the second train through Crewe station, and the further time saving to Manchester would be a bonus.” The DfT has not confirmed any changes to the scope of HS2 since the scrapping of the Golborne link last summer. It is currently carrying out two cost-cutting initiatives for HS2 called “Project Silverlight” and “Operation Blue Diamond”, which will run until the summer. No decision will be taken before then.