Old Oak Common Set To Be HS2 London Terminus

Concern that this could overstretch local infrastructure until link with Euston opens

A CGI of the front of Old Oak Common station
A CGI of the front of Old Oak Common station


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Old Oak Common station looks set to be the main London terminus for HS2 for at least three years.

This is the recommendation of the Oakervee report into the hugely over budget rail project. One of its conclusions was that, given the challenges presented by the link between Old Oak Common and Euston, it would be advisable to commence the service with it initially ending at Old Oak. The completion of the tunnel to Euston is likely to be completed about three years later having been delayed by technical issues.

The report by Douglas Oakervee states, “Euston station is an important part of realising the benefits of HS2, and the section from Old Oak Common to Euston should not be removed from the scope of the project. However, it is vital to get the Euston project right. Old Oak Common should act as the temporary London terminus for HS2 services until Euston station is complete, so time taken to get Euston right does not delay the start of HS2 services.”

There are concerns that local transport infrastructure is not equipped to deal with Old Oak Common acting as the main terminus even on a temporary basis. In their submission to the review Transport for London (TfL) and the Mayor of London opposed the idea saying that it would lead to overcrowding on Crossrail services particularly east of Paddington. Even if a reduced frequency of service operated initially with 10 trains per hour (tph), as the Oakervee review suggests, TfL believed there would be crowding issues in the rush hour. If the full planned 18 tph was introduced this would be more severe.

TfL said that Crossrail was designed to relieve the Central line and provide additional capacity for East-West travel and that it was not designed for the onward movement of HS2 passengers.

According to the Department for Transport, Crossrail services and their interchanges with the London Underground network would likely need to be enhanced to cope with the larger passenger numbers, or face significant crowding and disruption.

The Mayor of London’s submission to the Review was unequivocal that he did not believe terminating HS2 at Old Oak Common station permanently would be a viable option.

CGI of the main concourse of Old Oak Common station

The issue was raised this week in parliament by Andrew Slaughter, Labour MP for Hammersmith in whose constituency Old Oak Common will be located. After claiming that the Prime Minister would agree with his view that with Birmingham airport just 30 minutes from Old Oak once HS2 opens there will be no need for a third runway at Heathrow he asked Boris Johnson, “will HS2 terminate at Old Oak for three years while Euston is under construction, as the press are reporting and, if so, what will he do about the disruption and overcrowding at Old Oak? It is already the biggest development and an interchange site”.

The Prime Minster responded by saying, “We will make sure that we take control properly of the management of that fantastic project. There is huge potential for success at Old Oak. Indeed, it presents a potential link between the great west line and HS2. We will also ensure that we take proper control of what is happening at Euston which, he would agree, has been a shambles. We have a special purpose vehicle established to get the maximum value for the taxpayer from that project.”

The first services on HS2 are currently scheduled to begin between 2028 and 2031.

February 12, 2020

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