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High Speed 2 could trigger Euston capacity meltdown

Commuters at London’s Euston station could face a wait of up to 30 minutes for a Tube train after High Speed 2 comes into service in 2026, former transport secretary Lord Adonis told NCE this week.

He said it was vital that Crossrail 2, linking north east and south west London, is built to relieve passenger pressure on Euston. Adonis was speaking to NCE ahead of the publication of a proposed new route for Crossrail 2 this week, drawn up by business lobby group London First (see box).

He said that without capacity improvements at Euston, arriving passengers would face peak time waits of up to 30 minutes for Tube trains. These wait times would remove the advantage of having a high speed line to the North, added Adonis.

Transport for London (TfL) says Euston Underground station is already at capacity during the three hour morning peak. This leads to regular overcrowding, a situation that is set to get worse.

Project promoter High Speed Two Limited’s own projections suggest that the number of passengers using Euston during the morning peak will grow from 26,900 to 38,500 by 2037 even without HS2. This would increase to 66,700 if HS2 was built.

Over the same time period HS2 predicts that the number of passengers using the Underground station during the three hour peak will rise from 16,700 to 23,900, soaring to 41,300 with HS2.

Adonis added that the planned interchange between the east-west Crossrail line and HS2 at Old Oak Common would fail to relieve the pressure on Euston. “I’m glad I argued for it [Old Oak Common],” said Adonis. “Without it, I’m not sure even Crossrail 2 would be able to handle it [the extra passengers at Euston].” Adonis ’ view supports that of TfL deputy chairman Daniel Moylan. He told NCE in December that the project becomes vital if HS2 goes ahead (NCE 15-22 December 2011).

Even if HS2 is not built, Adonis is adamant Crossrail 2 is still needed to relieve congestion on the Tube network. London’s population is projected grow by 1.2M to 8.8M by 2031 with an extra 700,000 jobs created.

“Passenger numbers on the Tube have increased 14% over the past five years, a period that includes a double dip recession,” said Adonis.

“We must plan for the upgrades now or there will be major capacity crunches towards the end of the next decade.”

Adonis did not indicate how such a major investment should be funded, but said the project should be led by London mayor Boris Johnson with backing from the Department for Transport.

He also gave no figures on the cost of the scheme. In March, Johnson revealed that the likely cost was £15bn.

TfL is currently updating its position on Crossrail 2 and is in the process of reviewing tenders for a new study of the route.

The study will review the existing safeguarded route, establish a preferred engineering route and update the estimated costs.

Crossrail_2

London First wants to change the existing safeguarded Crossrail 2 route which runs from Wimbledon in south west London to Leytonstone in the north east via Parsons Green, Tottenham Court Road and Hackney.

The London First route would instead run from Clapham Junction in south west London via major bottlenecks at Victoria, Euston and Highbury & Islington stations and out to Seven Sisters in north east London.

The new route was drawn up by a working group of engineers and business leaders chaired by Lord Adonis. The group included CH2M Hill European managing director Roy Hill, Arup director Duncan Wilkinson and Gatwick Airport chairman Sir David Rowlands. Transport for London managing director of planning Michèle Dix also participated.

The working group said that the core of the scheme is a new underground line between Clapham Junction in the south west and Seven Sisters in the north east. Beyond that, the route is still up for discussion.

South of Clapham Junction the route could run via Tooting Broadway Northern Line station and then terminate at Wimbledon. In the north, the route could be extended to Alexandra Palace.

London First will publish a full report in six months. This will also include recommendations about whether the line should be a suburban rail line or a metro.

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