ALL CHANGE ON HS2?

CHANCELLOR of the Exchequer George Osborne’s surprise call, while visiting Hong Kong, for a full-scale rebuilding of Euston station – including a shopping centre, offices and apartments – is not only an about-turn on earlier plans but, more importantly, could well presage major changes to the current plans for High Speed 2.

HS2 Ltd’s new chairman, David Higgins, is due to report next month on how the project might be achieved both more quickly – and more cheaply.

Already, there are hints and rumours that the link across Camden Town between HS2 and HS1 may be dropped, while David Higgins – who gained his knighthood for services to regeneration – has been seen at Old Oak Common, in west London, where major development is planned around the site of a new station that will provide an interchange with the Great Western Main Line and with Crossrail.  Continue reading

Cool welcome on Thameslink

THE new trains for Thameslink, unveiled in late January, are already running late, which we hope is not an indication of future performance on the route.

The procurement of Class 700 was lengthened, we are told, by its complexity – more than a dozen funding bodies are involved. But it was also perhaps unfortunate that the negotiations were at a critical stage when a financial crisis swept around the world, affecting Europe in particular. Continue reading

DEVON AND CORNWALL’S ‘IRRATIONAL’ CONCERNS ABOUT HS2

EVER since gales and heavy seas destroyed a section of the sea wall and railway at Dawlish on 5 February, there has been a growing – and in my view, irrational – debate in South West England attempting to link future resilience of railway infrastructure in Devon and Cornwall with the HS2 project.

The controversy was started by the HS2 Action Alliance – which, despite its title, is strongly opposed to the new high speed line – calling on MPs “to lobby the Government for money to be spent on improving existing rail lines instead of on a £50 billion HS2 vanity project that has no benefit to the West Country”.

There is, of course, no relationship between what might be done now to repair and improve the railway’s resilience in Devon and Cornwall and construction over the next 20 years of a new high speed rail system serving substantial populations in the Midlands and North of England. Continue reading