Written evidence from Community and Regional
Planning Services (HSR 78)|
1. Community and Regional Planning Services
is pleased to submit this evidence. Our evidence is not confidential.
2. Community and Regional Planning Services
is an independent planning consultancy operating throughout England
and offering a full range of planning advice and resources to
both public and private clients at national, sub-national and
local levels. We have particular experience in responding to development
plans including strategic plans, and have represented clients
at a number of Examinations-in-Public. We also undertake studies,
research and policy advice for NGOs and statutory agencies. We
provide training in the planning system through seminars and workshops.
Through all our work runs the thread of a high level of environmental
awareness and commitment together with community sensitivity.
3. We do not purport to represent any particular
clients or other interests in responding to the Committee's Call
for Evidence, but do so from the perspective of our lengthy experience
across a wide range of land-use planning issues including strategic
planning. In particular, we do not have interests in or clients
with interest in land or property along or near the line of the
4. We are not specifically requesting to give
1. We are aware of the Committee's wish to concentrate
on the strategic issues and not to examine the detailed line of
route or the effect on individual landowners, residents or businesses
along the line of route. We have therefore concentrated our evidence
on four basic topics.
2. Since these cut across more than one of the
Committee's specific Questions, we have submitted them on a topic-by-topic
3. This Evidence:
attention to the lack of a strategic options consultation on the
route for Stage 1 of HS2;
that "passive provision" be made for an intermediate
station between Old Oak Common and Birmingham;
matters relating to the Old Oak Common interchange, particularly
with Crossrail; and
the question of gauge and of accommodating on HS2 trains bound
for destinations beyond the HS2 network.
4. We are aware that HS2 Ltd has looked at many
options for the route and that this process has been described
in the full Consultation Document. Fig B2 therein shows the full
set of route options initially considered and Fig B3 the "shortlist".
However, there was no public consultation on strategic options
for the route. The first true public consultation is the current
one, which defines the route precisely and in full detail. We
contrast this with that for HS1 for which, we seem to recall,
there were three strategic route options on which the public were
invited to comment before the present route was finally selected.
5. We are not necessarily disputing that the
chosen route is the best option. Also it would not have been unreasonable
for HS2 Ltd to have carried out an initial sifting process, in
order to discard impracticable or very expensive options or those
which offered extended journey times, as indeed it did. But a
consultation process on a shortlist of strategic route options
before making the final recommendation would have increased public
"ownership" of the final result and raised public awareness
of the engineering, commercial and other issues to be faced.
6. The Government may even be leaving itself
open to legal challenge on this point given that, as we understand
it, the requirements the Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive
require an options consultation stage.
7. The HS2 proposals include no intermediate
station between Old Oak Common and Birmingham Interchange. We
are aware of the possible negative effect on running times of
intermediate stations (although not all trains would need to call
there) and of potential additional costs. Also, until the high
speed line itself is extended beyond Birmingham the existing network
is likely adequately to be able to serve passengers from intermediate
areas between London and Birmingham with no time advantage by
using HS2. However, once high speed services extend further north
to Manchester, Leeds and eventually beyond to Scotland, a whole
swath of the northern home counties and south Midlands (Bedfordshire,
Buckinghamshire, Milton Keynes, southern Northamptonshire and
north Oxfordshirea sub-region earmarked for considerable
growth) will be unable to take advantage of the new service: for
them, travelling into London first would negate all potential
advantages of the new line.
8. An intermediate station at which not all trains
called would have to be located on a "loop", with a
single platform for each direction, both to enable non-stop trains
to overtake and for the safety of passengers waiting on the platform.
However, it is understood that the maximum speed at which trains
can safely turn into a loop from the main line at the junction
is approximately 225kph, whereas the maximum design speed of HS2
is to be up to 400kph. This means that stopping trains would have
to slow down to the junction speed, which costs line capacity
inasmuch as following trains could be delayed or greater headways
would be required.
9. However, not all trains would call at such
an intermediate station between Old Oak Common and Birmingham
Interchange. Trains from London terminating at Birmingham would
not need to call since the existing "classic" network
would suffice for passengers destined from Birmingham. It would
be important for HS trains serving destinations north of Birmingham,
once Phase 2 was completed, to call at the intermediate station
northbound in the first part of the morning and southbound in
the late afternoon and evening in order to provide an out-and-back-within-a-day
service for its catchment area. At other times, the station could
be served, say, hourly at the most. In this way the station would
provide maximum benefit for the least running-time penalty.
10. It is not proposed that the station should
serve London commuters. Through trains to the Continent via HS1
could also usefully call in order to provide a through service
from the intermediate station, in order to eliminate cross-London
interchange to St Pancras International.
11. The idea of an intermediate station between
Old Oak Common and Birmingham Interchange is mentioned briefly
in the box on p. 87 of the full Consultation Document. However,
this appears only to have been considered before the final line
of route had been selected, since it suggests that Bicester or
Milton Keynes were possible candidate locations: these were on
two of the "shortlisted" routes but on not the final
12. It is desirable that an intermediate station
should serve as large a population as possible, within a reasonable
access time. Use of this station would generally be preferred
by prospective customers of HS2 travelling to destinations north
of Birmingham rather than first travelling to Euston or Old Oak
Common if the overall journey time from the origin location was
shorter by whatever combination of travel modes were used.
13. The principal towns and cities in the catchment
area include Aylesbury, Banbury, Bedford, Bicester, Hemel Hempstead,
High Wycombe, Luton/Dunstable, Milton Keynes, Northampton and
Oxford. It should be remembered, however, that even the rural
areas between these places support substantial populations in
smaller towns and larger villages.
14. A marginal case can be seen at Hemel Hempstead,
which is on the West Coast main line into Euston and so would
have easy interchange with HS2 there. Trains from Oxford to Paddington
would be likely to call at Old Oak Common but even after electrification
this is likely to result in an uncompetitive journey time compared
with use of an intermediate station on HS2. Banbury and Northampton
may best be served by conventional train direct to Birmingham
International (typical journey times 43 min and 47 min respectively)
where interchange with HS2 will be available, although currently
trains from these towns are not very frequent (typically every
15. Less weight may therefore be accorded to
accessibility to the intermediate HS2 station from Banbury, Hemel
Hempstead and Northampton, although some users may still prefer
it to travelling via Birmingham or London where a time allowance
for interchange would also be necessary.
16. Given the final choice of route, there would
appear to be four possible locations for an intermediate station:
Aylesbury, Calvert, Finmere and Brackley. These are identified
on the map at Fig 1. Given the strategic nature of the Committee's
Inquiry, exact sites are not specified, merely approximate locations.
17. Further analysis of these four options is
given in the Appendix to this Evidence. We conclude that the Aylesbury
area would provide the greatest benefit, having a higher level
of advantages over disadvantages.
18. All that would be required for the intermediate
station at Stage 1 would be what is called "passive provision".
Essentially this would be the purchase of (or an option on) land
adjacent to the line, free of permanent structures such as bridge
abutments and electrification masts, such that construction of
the station and the necessary loops could be carried out at Stage
2 or later without disruption to HS services already running under
Stage 1. Ideally, the inclusion of switches (points) for the turnouts
in the Stage 1 running lines, together with additional signalling
capacity, would make construction of the station at a later date
even easier. If any loops were to be provided as part of Stage
1 for maintenance trains or emergency purposes, then the site
of the future intermediate station would be an ideal location
19. It is now being regretted that an intermediate
station was not provided on HS1 on the outskirts of Chatham or
Maidstone for use by South Eastern high-speed domestic services.
The Medway towns have really lost out because of this: such HS
services as they do have operate using the much slower route via
Gravesend. It would be prohibitively expensive to add such a station
now. Let the same mistake not be made with HS2.
20. Incidentally, the promise of a future intermediate
station on HS2 might also de-fuse some of the local authority
opposition in the area, and there is even the potential for the
eventual station to be part-funded by developers of the site or
of a wider local area, as is happening with Crossrail, depending
on the chosen location.
Old Oak Common
21. This station on HS2 is to be provided as
an interchange with Crossrail and with trains to/from Heathrow,
local services to Reading and Great Western main line services
to the west. Fig 5.3 of the full Consultation Document shows a
map of the location and outline of the stations.
22. It would appear from Drawing 09080 that the
HS2 station is to have four platforms: this would provide maximum
flexibility. The station must be able to be served by trains bound
to/from the link line to HS1.
23. Given that HS2 would run at a lower ground
level, interchange at Old Oak Common should be as seamless as
possible. It should be remembered that passengers will be interchanging
in several directions: HS2 with Crossrail to/from Central London
and HS2 to/from Heathrow and destinations further west. Interchange
passenger volumes are expected to be high, particularly before
the HS2 link to Heathrow is constructed.
24. Passive provision should be made in the Crossrail
layout for Old Oak Common station when Crossrail is first constructed,
even if the HS2 platforms are not built until HS2 itself is constructed.
This would considerably reduce disruption to Crossrail at a later
date at little if any additional cost.
25. Old Oak Common could be the terminus for
those Crossrail trains from the east that were initially proposed
to terminate at Paddington. (Only a proportion of Crossrail services
are planned to operate west of Paddington on current plans.) This
would ensure a sufficiently frequent Crossrail service into Central
London for HS2 passengers wishing to change at Old Oak. Ideally,
terminating "bay" platforms would be provided in the
centre of the Crossrail tracks, similar to those at Dalston Junction
on the London Overground line. This is an important matter for
HS2 in order to ensure a sufficiently high Crossrail frequency
for interchanging passengers.
26. The proposal at Stage 1 for trains using
HS2 from London which then continue beyond Birmingham towards
Manchester and Scotland is for them initially to join the existing
rail network north of Lichfield.
27. Although it is understood that European-gauge
trains will operate the London-Birmingham route from the start,
the operation on the "classic" network of trains bound
for more northern destinations would necessitate new UK-gauge
stock being procured for HS2 use which would become progressively
redundant as the HS2 route is extended northwards (although in
the case of services to Scotland, this could be some time away).
28. In order to maximise the use of capacity
on the classic network and to provide overall competitive journey
times, trains coming off HS2 to continue to Manchester and the
West Coast route to Scotland would need to have tilting capability,
similar to the existing "Pendolinos". This appears to
be a very expensive solution, unless these trains can be cascaded
on to the classic lines once they are no longer required on an
extended HS2 network. Only the West Coast Main Line is currently
equipped for tilting trains, although scope may exist in the future
for other electrified lines to benefit from tilt capability.
29. The alternative of diverting existing "Pendolinos"
on to HS2 would put residual users of the West Coast Main Line
at a disadvantage, as well as under-utilising their tilt capability.
30. Trains coming off HS2 bound for destinations
other than on the West Coast Main Line (if any are planned) would
not need tilt capability, but whilst only HS2 Stage 1 were operational
there is likely to be no competitive advantage in using HS2 for
destinations such as Leeds, NE England or the East Midlands.
31. The Consultation Document appears to have
very little to say about this subject, and yet the question of
gauge and tilt capability is fundamental to the overall planning
(i) of HS2 itself, (ii) of the use of the line for trains serving
destinations north of Birmingham and (iii) of rolling stock investment
16 May 2011
ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF THE FOUR
SUGGESTED LOCATIONS FOR AN INTERMEDIATE STATION ON HS2
to large and growing urban area.
served by public road transport to/from a variety of destinations.
synergy with Aylesbury Vale Parkway Chiltern Line station, less
than 1km distant (if HS2 station located to the west of the town).
for developer contributions.
from Banbury and Northampton.
with proposed East-West Rail providing fast access to Oxford,
Milton Keynes and Bedford.
to serve by road-based public transport.
from High Wycombe and Luton/Dunstable.
conflict with proposed HS2 Infrastructure Maintenance Depot.
by (existing) express bus service to/from Oxford, Bicester, Buckingham,
Milton Keynes and Bedford.
to A421 trunk road.
from Hemel Hempstead, High Wycombe and Luton/Dunstable.
to A43 trunk road with good access to Bicester, Northampton and
from Hemel Hempstead, High Wycombe and Luton/Dunstable.
APPROXIMATE DISTANCES BY ROAD IN KM FROM
PRINCIPAL CATCHMENT AREA TOWNS/CITIES TO POTENTIAL LOCATIONS FOR
INTERMEDIATE STATION ON HS2
POTENTIAL LOCATIONS FOR INTERMEDIATE STATION