Old Oak Common to Euston Tunnels As Costly As A New Tube Line
HS2 Ltd’s Y networkconcept has massive built-in irresilience, with all premier intercity trains from the Midlands and North having to be fed down one track from Bickenhill. Euston main line station, and its Underground station, would have to be completely rebuilt for HS2, at enormous cost, over a period of eight years.
HS2 Ltd’s HS2 Tunnelsdocument (July 2010) stated that its Euston to Old Oak Common section would use twin bored tunnels of 7.25 metres internal diameter — so each one would have an area of 41.2 square metres or thereabouts.
My understanding is that recent sections of the London Underground (deep-level lines) have a diameter of around 3.8 metres, so their cross-section is around 11.3 square metres. This means that the volumes of spoil, from building the 8 km HS2 Euston tunnels bear comparison with running tunnels for about 30 kilometres of tube line. So in their scale of costs, the Euston high speed rail bores alone are comparable to building the Victoria Line (which carries around six times as many passengers as HS2 would).
There is nothing of the nature of Euston-HS2 in the French intercity rail network. SNCF has retained a dispersed access model for Paris intercity trains, using multiple termini and tracks. In Japan, the authorities also eschewed the HS2-Euston concept, building Shin-Osakastation to avoid the engineering difficulties of running Shinkansen into central Osaka.
Clearly, it is much better value for money to improve local public transport to Old Oak Common, than it is to build large diameter dead-end rail tunnels into Euston. Upon completion of London’s Crossrail, the Wormwood Scrubs area should have good quality west-to-east access, so subsequent investment should be focused on better north-to-south links — possibly including light rail (tramways). Improved local links would enable Old Oak Common to take on the role of a London transport interchange.
Adoption of a dispersed investment strategy based on maximising the potential of existing assets, offers better connectivity, reliability, and sustainability than HS2. A new interchange station at Old Oak Common could take Chilternintercity trains from the West Midlands, and there would also be the optionof using it for Liverpool or Glasgow trains.
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