The Independent London Newspaper
24th April 2017

EXCLUSIVE: HS2 bosses set to abandon Camden Town 'link' stage of high speed rail project

    Published: 20 February, 2014
    EXCLUSIVE by TOM FOOT
     
    A MAJOR railway development threatening to devastate Camden Town for more than a decade and to drive traders out of its world-famous markets is set to be dropped, the New Journal understands.
     
    HS2 officials are refusing to deny that its plan to build a “link” through Camden Town to the Eurostar Paris line will be axed in a cost-cutting review next month. 
     
    A new design for Euston station is also thought to be included in a raft of significant changes to the £50billion scheme.
     
    HS2 Ltd’s chairman David Higgins, who has been asked to slash the cost of the Euston-Birmingham high-speed rail project, is believed to have singled out the Camden Town section of the route as an unnecessary “luxury”. 
     
    The dramatic shift has become an open secret among those connected to the project but HS2 officials are dismissing the current speculation as “curiosity and conjecture”. 
     
    The plan has, since 2010, been to send high-speed trains on overground tracks through Camden Market over the Kentish Town viaduct onto the North London Line towards Agar Grove before “linking” up with the Eurostar line. The idea was to allow passengers an uninterrupted journey to the continent. 
     
    The “link” would have led to the demolition of the iconic Camden Lock and Camden Road bridges and gridlocked Camden Town, Kentish Town, Chalk Farm with road closures. The knock-on effect would have been “severe” in Hampstead, with hundreds of lorries jamming roads daily and spewing pollution onto the Heath. The cost of the work was budgeted at around £300million. 
     
    Market bosses have warned that building a railway through the heart of Camden Town would have forced traders to leave, with the loss of more than 9000 jobs. Independent campaign groups and Camden politicians from all four major parties have taken the fight to central government. It would represent a major campaign victory if the plan was overturned.
     
    The £300million Hawley Wharf development and plans to build a new primary school would not be affected by HS2 if the “link” was scrapped. Camden Road and Camden High Street road closures would be abandoned. 
     
    Businesses such as Camden Boxframe, Ivy House Dental Practice and the parade of garages at 120-136 Camley Street would be saved from demolition. 
     
    Camden Town Unlimited chief executive Simon Pitkeathley said of the “link” axing: “If true, that would be an amazing result for Camden Town and the businesses who are seriously concerned about their livelihoods. We also thought that if they do the ‘link’ they should do it properly, not some Meccano version.” 
     
    Significantly, a top director at Transport for London – which launched a review of HS2 on behalf of Mayor of London Boris Johnson – came out against it at a major public meeting in Primrose Hill last month, saying that the authority was “opposed to the link”, “the business case is weak” and “we also have substantial issues with Euston station”.
     
    But the HS2 project’s threat to the basements of Primrose Hill homes, the parade of houses in Park Village East and Morning ton Crescent, Drummond Street’s historic Indian restaurants and more than 200 homes on the Regent’s Park estate remains. 
     
    Camden Council has, since 2011, publicly opposed HS2. But it remains to be seen whether hostility will remain if the “link” is scrapped and major changes to the current plan for Euston station are unveiled in the soon-to-be-published Higgins review.
     
    Council leader Sarah Hayward said: “If it was definitely announced that the ‘link’ was scrapped then obviously we would welcome it. They should invest the money in a better station design for Euston. But I simply don’t think this is tenable, that they think they can cook up plans for Euston and not involve the community in it. Actually, it is an offence to democracy.” 
     
    She added: “Our resolve would not wane whatever they come up with for over-station develop ment. Whether it delivers an affordable station and jobs, we will still oppose the impact on housing, open space, the vent shafts, regeneration projects. Whatever they do there will still be a massive cost to Camden.” 
     
    Ben Ruse, HS2 Ltd lead spokesman, said: “Given the significance of Sir David Higgins’ initial report, it is only natural there is curiosity and conjecture surrounding different aspects of the project. However, it is important to stress that any thoughts as to content is speculation.” 
     

    'WHAT ARE THE VESTED INTERESTS BEHIND DEMOLITION PLANS?'
    By TOM FOOT

    A TOP expert in engineering has warned that “vested interests” may be driving a plan to terminate the HS2 line in Euston and has swung behind a new station design proposal that would save hundreds of homes from demolition.

    Professor James Croll, professor of civil engineering at University College London, is backing the Double Deck Down (DDD) scheme drawn up by Jubilee Line extension engineer Jeff Travers and Euston railway planner Richard Percival. 

    With major changes to the current Euston station design plan expected to be announced next month, campaigners are turning their attention to the plight of residents on the Regent’s Park estate. More than 200 homes are being demolished to make way for the high-speed railway. 

    Professor Croll told the New Journal: “A carefully-thought-out phasing of the works could avoid almost entirely any disruption to those living and working in the Camden area. It would avoid almost entirely the need for any demolition of existing housing, recreation space and office buildings west of Euston and allow preservation of the hotels, schools, curry houses.”

    Supporters say DDD would be quicker and cheaper to build, would allow HS2 rail work to finish earlier and provide space for “over-station development”. Professor Croll said the changes would preserve the “wonderful heritage bridges” in Mornington Crescent with “greatly reduced construction work” around Hampstead Road. 

    A potential stumbling block for the HS2 project in Euston has been that Network Rail, which operates the current railway, has said that trains coming out of Euston station cannot be disrupted by HS2 building work. 

    But Professor Croll said the DDD scheme would allow for the “smooth continuous running” of trains during construction”. He added: “One is left wondering what can be the possible vested interests that are driving what appears to be such an incredibly inefficient and disruptive plan to knock down and rebuild so much of Camden.”

    Since 2010, more than £50million in design contracts have been handed out, with Arup already trousering £10million to draw up images of a new Euston station.

    Those designs were scrapped in January 2009 after HS2 Ltd changed the scope of the development when costs spiralled from £1.2bn to £2bn. Now, the remit has changed once again and yet another design proposal is expected to be unveiled next month.

    HS2 activist Peter Jones, who has set up a new campaign group, SOS Camden, said: “Double Deck Down is clearly better than HS2’s plan and it should be looked at. Let the people of Camden say what we are going to get at Euston.”

    The Town Hall has not yet officially endorsed the DDD proposal, despite calling on HS2 to pay for it to employ experts to look at the plan in more detail. Costs of working up the plans could run into hundreds of thousands of pounds, according to council leader Sarah Hayward.

    She added: “The issue with DDD is that we do not know if it is or is not deliverable. Whatever is built there, there will be construction blight.”

    For more information, visit www.soscamden.org

    'DDD WOULD SAVE HOMES'

    THE Double Deck Down (DDD) scheme is essentially to layer high-speed tracks on top of each other, allowing for a narrower approach into Euston Station. 

    This would prevent the demolition of 200 homes on the Regent’s Park estate. The design would allow rubble to be taken away by train, which would mean far fewer lorries on roads.

    DDD would create a large triangle of “over-station development”, where new homes and businesses could be built.

     

     

    Comments

    HS2 reroute

    Why not reroute HS2 rail link from the West midland and use the Birmingham Curzon street railway station as a place to starting and route via the old Walsall to Lichfield rail link from Lichfield there is a Direct link to London St Pancras hare . You can Also reopen the Walsall to Wolverhampton via the Grand Junction railway WCML then use the old Wolverhampton and Walsall railway line which is now named 5ws for reopening as a Tram line .You can even have a Direct rail link from Wolverhampton to Birmingham Curzon street plus reopen all Links to St Pancras London to all parts of the UK.

    The reason for not building a

    The reason for not building a link is because there is not enough demand for one. In the future, there could be two new tunnels from Old Oak Common to Stratford or Dagenham, but at great expense.

    It might still be possible to use the existing viaducts unaltered, to run very rare night-time maintenance trains between HS2 and HS1, by fitting interlaced track down the middle of the viaduct. There is no need to any catenary wire - a diesel can pull them along. It might need a siding or two at the Euston End, to get across to the Primrose Hill station line.

    A third and even a fourth London Overground track through Camden Road station, and the pinch-point to the west, might still be needed, to expand London Overground services and freight.

    Here is HS2's analysis of a double-decker station at Euston:
    http://assets.hs2.org.uk/sites/default/files/inserts/C220-ARP-ST-REP-01A...

    Has someone run out of brown

    Has someone run out of brown envelopes?

    Future Proofing

    Any solution needs to allow a direct link from HS2 to Paris and Brussels, without the need to change in London.

    A Camden resident fully exposed to any HS2 works.

    A real shame that nimbyism has derailed long term improvement in the name of short term perceived gain. Basically HS2 is still going ahead and CamdenNewJournal are raving at actually receiving less of the investment pie? Bowing to populism.

    The Regent's park estate is nothing short of ghetto, which does not fly the flag of social integration. Evershot street and Hamstead road, the road connections between camden and central London, are in need to significant improvements and investment.

    Following the vast improvements of the King's Cross area, it's a real a shame to see a remaining 'rough diamond' of North London not receiving its due investment.

    'The Regent's park estate is nothing short of a ghetto'

    What a disgraceful thing to say. Real people live in real homes there.
    If King's Cross Mk II is what we can look forward to, you can keep it.
    It represented one of the great opportunities to actually create something creative and dynamic in this part of the city, and it has turned out to be soulless and bland.

    The community, homes, businesses and schools around Regent's Park, Somers Town and Drummond Street will be decimated, and you can absolutely guarantee that the 400 odd social housing units that will be lost on the estate will not be replaced when the land remaining is eventually released for redevelopment.
    Maybe that's what you like about the project?

    Hs1-2 Link

    So good to hear that the ill-thought out link is to be scrapped.
    I wouldn't let the bunch of incompetents that id Hs2 Ltd anywhere near Camden if possible
    What remains now is to get this monstrous line stopped at Old Oak Common or, failing that tunnelled into Euston
    Bouyed by this success - the fight goes on
    Well done CNJ and its readers. Sanity partiallt prevails

    thank god

    I so hope this is true - but until its official...

    HS2 link to be dropped?

    If this proves true, it is wonderful news and a victory for common sense. And thank you, New Journal, for joining the campaign against it. Now we need to be told exactly how and why such a crackpot hare-brained scheme got as close to being turned into law as it has. It is quite unsatisfactory that it should take the chance combination of prospective cost overruns and the appointment of a new HS2 chairman to stop the project and the chaos and misery that its construction would entail. There is something deeply wrong with the planning process and it needs to be fixed to prevent other such near-catastrophes in future.

    Camden Market should never have been threatened

    Even many people who are pro-HS2 are opposed to the overground link to HS1.

    Building through Camden Market might be justifiable if there was a huge benefit to gain - look at how sympathetically Thameslink has gone through Borough Market to see what can be done. Borough Market is still there and still working; it's hardly been "destroyed".

    But there isn't a huge benefit from the overground link. Every time a train passes through from HS2 to HS1, the North London Lines have to almost close down to let it through, so there won't be more than one or two trains an hour, and none during peak hours. The timetable they were proposing was only nine trains a day (three each for Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham).

    There is another suggestion, which is a fully-tunnelled link (ie, a tunnel under Camden Market), which would create far less nuisance. There would be a few vent shafts, but that's all you'd see above ground; all the construction work would be at the ends, so no lorries clogging up Camden's roads.

    And it could carry 16 trains an hour, not two. That would allow for regular services to run from Stratford and from Kent to Birmingham and the North. Those trains would replace trains running into Euston, making the Euston extension smaller - saving at least some of the Regent's Park estate.

    Camden isn't very likely to stop HS2 on its own. But pushing the link into a tunnel and reducing the size of the Euston extension - that should be achievable, and would make HS2 better for everyone, while reducing the impact on Camden.

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