Initial plans for the integration of High Speed 2 (HS2) and the redevelopment of the Network Rail side of Euston Station in London have been revealed in an exclusive interview with Network Rail HS2 integration director Neil Kirkwood.
Euston Station is currently undergoing a massive, complex expansion with a new 11 platform HS2 station being built on the western side of the existing station.
Much is known about the new high speed station, but as of yet few details have been released about how the existing 1960s Network Rail station will integrate into it and how the already at capacity, station will cope with future passenger numbers.
Concerns from councillors in Camden Council have been raised about the lack of secured funding for the redevelopment and the timescales over which it will be developed.
However, Kirkwood said plans for the conventional station, which has the buy in from its multiple stakeholders, are being narrowed, with the submission of an outline business case for its redevelopment only 12 to 18 months away.
The existing station was built in the 1960s for 20M passengers a year. Together with passengers interchanging, the number travelling is now more than double that at 50M a year. Even without HS2, Kirkwood said a major intervention would have been needed to cope with future demand.
The current station serves the West Coast Main Line and has interchanges with the Northern, Victoria and Hammersmith and City Underground lines via a connection to Euston Square station, and London Overground. There is also a bus station to the south of the station and a taxi rank. Should Crossrail 2 get the go-ahead, it will also stop at Euston.
To create enough space for the HS2 station, two Network Rail platforms are being incorporated into the footprint of the new HS2 development leaving 15 platforms on the Network Rail side. Kirkwood said the current designs are still in early stages but Network Rail believes that integration with HS2 and Crossrail 2 have been “matched up”.
As part of the Network Rail’s development plans, Kirkwood said a “family of options” have been explored.
One of the options that was looked at was to straighten all 15 platforms by rebuilding them to see if there was an operational benefit to this. Network Rail then toyed with options to build a new concourse above the tracks or keep the concourse at the southern end of the tracks in “broadly” the same place it is now. Kirkwood explains that all of these options have now been canned.
“We had to weigh up if those benefits were sufficient to actually support the cost and disruption which goes with completely rebuilding all the platforms and the interventions the track and signalling that goes with that as a result,” said Kirkwood.
Instead, Kirkwood said that Network Rail has now worked out a scheme which still gives the operational benefits without the disruption of realigning all the platforms.
“We’ve found ways of minimising the need to intervene on the railway to be able to get passengers away from trains as quickly and as smoothly as possible,” he said.
In the option being taken forward, only a small number platforms on the eastern side of the station get straightened, new stair and escalator entrances down to the underground will be made between the platforms and a new concourse underground built to link the underground and the potential Crossrail 2 line.
“We will reach a point where 66% to 70% of passengers arriving at Euston will want to interchange to London Underground,” he said. “That quick smooth access from platform direct to the underground is an important part of the concept that we have come up with.”
In February last year, HS2 Ltd appointed Lendlease as its master development partner to oversee the redevelopment of the entire Euston site and produce a masterplan which could then be taken forward to gain planning permission. Its plans have yet to be published, but an oversite development is a key part of both stations.
Under the new plans, Kirkwood said it would create the ability to have a deck for the oversite development above and space for the new supports for it within the Network Rail station.
As part of Lendlease’s role, it is also looking at the development opportunity on Eversholt Street, the road running north-south on the eastern side of the Network Rail station.
To help fund the redevelopment, alongside the offsetting of the money which would have been spent on it from the renewals budget in the control periods and enhancement funding, the Network Rail owned buildings on Eversholt Street will be redeveloped. This is also part of Lendlease’s role.
The 1960s buildings which face onto the street with a 230m long, dark brick wall will be torn down to make way for shops and new developments.
“That big black wall on that side, our vision is that that will be dramatically different and that will be activated with buildings along that side,” he said.
A commitment to provide a new east-west connection across both the Network Rail and HS2 stations will also be included in the plans.
Works within the station will be able to be carried out without the need for planning permission said Kirkwood, but where they fall outside of this it will be covered by the new masterplan. It is hoped that this planning application will be entered in early 2020.
Funding for work on the strategic business case over the next 12 to 18 months has now been secured from the enhancements funding for control period 6 and will start in April this year. However the value has not been released.
“Given the size and importance of the work it’s substantial, it’s not hundreds of millions but it’s not pence either,” said Kirkwood.
Submission of final business case in 2022 will then trigger detailed design to start, however work to transform the station will not start until 2027, a year after the HS2 station opens.
To manage the increase in passengers in the interim, Kirkwood said it was now carrying out a number of interventions such as the relocation of the taxi rank and the construction of a new entrance down to the tube station for passengers coming from the plaza outside.
Kirkwood said Network Rail had a “range” for both the cost and the completion date for the redevelopment but that neither were ready to be published at this stage.
“Do I have a completion date in mind yes, but do we have a detailed programme in place to see how this would work, no,” he said. “The real opportunity there is to plan the detail and the logistics that, together with the follow-up phases of the High Speed 2 extension, we do those things together.
“If we do that well we can minimise the impact on passengers.”
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