Arup has gone on the offensive to push its Heathrow Hub concept, as recent media reports suggest that the chair of High Speed 2 favours a cheaper interchange between Crossrail, the West Coast Main Line, the Heathrow Express and any new high speed line north in the London suburb of Acton.
Arup director Peter Gist today presented the firm’s case for the hub at a conference attended by transport minister Lord Adonis and HS2 chief executive Alison Munro
“High speed rail will enable people to travel between the city centres of London and Birmingham in just 45 minutes, and between Birmingham and Heathrow Airport in 37 minutes,” said Gist.
“We firmly believe that the greatest benefit to passengers can only be delivered by providing them with a high speed rail service directly between city centres.
“Our research has also established that travelling from London to Birmingham via Heathrow provides the significant benefit of direct access to the UK’s main airport and solves many of Heathrow’s access problems without any significant penalties: the additional journey time would be just under two minutes”.
However, Gist also addressed some of the issues surrounding a terminal in London - Euston is the obvious choice but may be expensive:
“Our research has determined that Euston is an obvious central London station with the potential capacity to act as a terminus for high speed rail. However, if we want High Speed trains to be compatible with those in continental Europe, we must ensure that platforms are 400m in length in order to accommodate standard European high speed trains.
“To incorporate 400m platforms at Euston would require a substantial rebuild of the entire station. Perhaps we need to consider other options such as a new, underground terminus, or a ‘through’ service with trains turning around in an alternative location”.
Gist said routes directly into Birmingham city centre would be the most efficient - again, the information from High Speed 2 suggests simply the ‘West Midlands’, raising the possibility of a new parkway-style station or using the existing Birmingham International station, which has excellent links to the centre.
“In order to give faster journey times to passengers, it is vital that they are able to travel directly from city centre to city centre, however, taking substantial new infrastructure into an existing city has significant implications.
“There are a number of options for Birmingham, including a high-speed by-pass with a ‘branch’ to the city centre, a tunnel directly into the centre or a combination of by-pass and direct access. It is also vital to make decisions based on where the high-speed network will go to beyond Birmingham.”