High Speed Rail - Transport Committee Contents

Written evidence from the London Borough of Newham (HSR 162)


1.1  We believe the compelling argument in favour of a new high speed rail network is not just that it will bring UK cities together with resulting economic benefits but that it can also link the West Midlands, the North and Scotland with European destinations for trade, commerce, leisure and tourism.

1.2  Business growth overwhelmingly relies on transport infrastructure, and if the Government is serious about rebalancing the UK's economy and generating further growth outside the capital, high speed rail is a pre-requisite. Huge extensions of the European high speed rail network are being planned and delivered. The UK should be looking at becoming an integral part of this network.

1.3  That is why Newham has welcomed the link between the new high speed two line and the existing high speed one (Channel Tunnel) line currently operated by Eurostar. The country is constructing a railway for the next 100 years; given this, it is critical to take the long term approach. The alternative is to build a discrete set of lines which fail to join up and, by extension, fail to capitalise on the growth which would be generated by a link between European cities and the UK regions.

1.4  Those who question the existence of a market to travel between the UK North and Europe are often not including economic projections around growth and business relocation. We remain concerned that regeneration benefits are not fully taken into account in the appraisal of major transport schemes. In many transport schemes (the Thames Gateway Bridge is a local example) regeneration benefits are not fully included in the Benefit to Cost and investment appraisals.

1.5  The regeneration benefits seen at existing Eurostar stations have driven at least £6 billion of gross development value.[379] A report for London and Continental Railways on the total regeneration benefits of High Speed 1 estimated these as £17 billion. LSE and the University of Hamburg also demonstrated that high-speed rail lines bring significant economic benefits to the communities they serve, the first thorough statistical research on the subject. Towns connected to a new high-speed line saw their GDP rise by at least 2.7% compared to neighbours not on the route.[380]

1.6  The benefits of investment in transport are well documented; High Speed 2 Ltd's work demonstrated that the first step of the London to Birmingham high speed line would generate a return of £2 for every £1 spent.[381]


2.1  Having said this, we believe the proposed current HS2 route does not make the most of existing high speed rail assets. Stratford International station, in Newham, is international only in name and we believe it is in danger of becoming a white elephant; despite its strategic location at the heart of the 2012 Olympic district springing up in London's new metropolitan centre. We believe Stratford is an option that has not been fully explored in the consultation.

Sweating existing transport assets

2.2  Stratford International station has had public investment of over £210 million to make it fit for its purpose as an international stopping point, and £238 million has been invested in an extension of the Docklands Light Railway due to open this summer and enabling international travellers better access to Docklands in particular. Yet still no international services are stopping at the station.

2.3  We have clear evidence that demonstrates a commercial case for operators to stop at Stratford now on the existing High Speed One line. However, we are also anxious that the station is utilised to its full potential in the new network.

2.4  Stratford could be used as a complementary station to Euston and Old Oak Common —with international trains from Birmingham and the North using Stratford as their London stop and also with Stratford acting as an intermediary stop for some intercity High Speed Two trains.

Preventing duplication of investment

2.5  There are several advantages to Stratford. The London Borough of Newham supports a station at Old Oak Common in West London in order to enable a connection between the new HS2 and the existing HS1 lines. However, the original role for the Old Oak Common interchange station did not envisage it as an international station. Since the Old Oak interchange station was first proposed it has now been suggested its scale should be enhanced so that it becomes a superhub and an international station - with the infrastructure alone costing over £200 million. This clearly duplicates investment in Stratford.

2.6  If Old Oak is used as an international station, passengers would have to change at Old Oak and board a second (HS1) train in order to complete their journey to Europe. However, we do also need to be able to provide a single train service joining the North and the Midlands to the European network. We believe Stratford to be the best option for this.

2.7  Stratford International already has the facilities needed to be an international station. With the recent addition of the eastern egress walkway, the capacity of the station for traveller numbers has been doubled. Using Stratford can therefore relieve the pressure on Euston by dispersing excessive traveller numbers, providing a more sustainable solution. Utilising Stratford as an existing asset would create a more sustainable solution for the future needs of the capital—population growth around Euston has already peaked and the expansion needed to make Euston a station is already very considerable.

2.8  It can also link international business clients with Canary Wharf and the City in a fraction of the time it would take them to travel from St Pancras, Euston or Old Oak Common. It is vital we "sweat the use" of such a transport asset.

Clear demand

2.9  The stop at Stratford would create extra passengers from a large and distinct catchment area including much of London, Essex and East Anglia to join the trains. Stratford covers one of the widest catchment areas in Greater London and is easier to get to by car, taxi and public transport for most passengers, with the exception of those coming from West London. And as the planned economic development continues in the East, more passenger numbers will be generated.

2.10  Colin Buchanan Associates have demonstrated that stopping at Stratford now on High Speed One (existing Channel Tunnel line) is financially viable, would see two million passengers opt to use the station annually and deliver £600 million in user benefits in the evaluation period (based on the Department for Transport's own methodology for valuing journey time savings).

2.11  Some 30% of Eurostar passengers would switch to Stratford from St Pancras. An additional 51,000 passengers would be created through Eurostar stopping at Stratford. The revenue contribution from stopping at Stratford International has been conservatively estimated at around £5.5 million by 2016 and £7 million by 2026. The latter forecast in particular is likely to be on the low side when Crossrail—with five stations in Newham—is operational and additional West Anglia services are expected to be available by 2021.

Following existing economic growth trends in London

2.12  By 2025 when the line is built, many passengers will have East London as their end destination. Stratford is at the centre of a growing commercial district in East London. This stretches Old Street to the Olympic Park including the Prime Minister's vision for a "Tech City" in East London, down to London's only Enterprise Zone in the Royal Docks, and across to the O2, Greenwich peninsula, Canary Wharf and the City. This new growth corridor would be hugely supported by the ability to utilise Stratford as the international high speed rail hub it was intended to be. There is currently no major transport hub east of Liverpool Street to serve this growing business community.

2.13  We are expecting East London to become the economic powerhouse for the capital over the next two decades. Stratford holds a unique strategic position in the economic development of London and the UK as a whole. Within the next decade, it will have become London's major metropolitan centre outside the City and West End, with the development of a high quality commercial, residential and retail offering, including Westfield Stratford City and the Olympic parklands. Stratford will be a prime visitor attraction; a vibrant area to work and do business; and a fantastic place to live.

—  Stratford is home to the Olympic Park, the biggest new urban park in the country.

—  It already has 5 million square feet of consented office space.

—  Westfield is opening the biggest urban retail development in Europe at Stratford. Westfield's £1.5 billion scheme includes 340 shops opening in September 2011.

—  It is the growth hub along with the Royals for the Mayor of London's Green Enterprise District.

—  Stratford already enjoys enviable transport connections into west London, the City and Canary Wharf. It currently takes around 12 minutes to travel to Canary Wharf, 20 minutes to Oxford Circus, and 25 minutes to Westminster (all direct services). This connectivity will be further supported by the opening of the DLR Stratford Internation extension in the summer of 2011 and Crossrail in 2017, which will link Stratford to Heathrow in the West.

2.14  Independent analysis by Oxford Economics shows that the potential for growth in East London is hugely significant and could have a national impact. However, the right infrastructure is absolutely vital to enable us to capitalise on potential for growth and regeneration. If we do not provide the right conditions for the private sector to invest over the next decade, it may not happen.

2.15  This explains the significant business backing we have for the Stratford case, from AEG (owners of the O2), Canary Wharf Group, Westfield Stratford City, and London's largest international conference centre ExCeL, among others. It also has cross political party support. Lord Heseltine, Chair of the Regional Growth Fund advisory board has said: "The fact that we are still arguing about whether High Speed One trains should stop at Stratford after all of this time is mind blowing, and represents a massive failure of government."

May 2011

379  Developmentpressreleases,KingsCrossCentralLimitedPartnership,StratfordCitydevelopmentlimited. Back

380   From Periphery to Core: economic adjustments to high speed rail by Gabriel M Ahlfeldt (LSE) and Arne Feddersen (University of Hamburg) Back

381   High Speed Rail Command Paper, p.13 (Mar 2010) Back

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Prepared 8 November 2011