High Speed Rail (Preparation) Bill

Written evidence from London Borough of Newham (HSR 24)

Executive Summary

The London Borough of Newham fully supports the Government’s plans for a High Speed network and a commitment to include a link to High Speed 1 (HS1) in the network’s first phase. We see this rail link as potentially serving a dual domestic and international purpose, linking key economic hubs in the UK with those on the continent . However , the proposed HS1-HS2 link will limit the potential to maximise the growth and regeneration benefits that high speed rail could bring to the UK due to its insufficient capacity. This submission makes the economic and strategic case for improving the link to facilitate the next phase of the UK ’s high speed network connecting all regions serving the two networks together and providing access to key European destinations for trade, commerce, leisure and tourism. Currently a valuable opportunity to spread investment across the UK , an inherent objective of the network, and strengthen the business case for the entire network through resultant economic growth is being overlooked.

Introduction to the London Borough of Newham

Situated in London ’s historic East End , Newham is home to some 310,000 people and was the host borough for the 2012 Olympics and Paralympic games . Newham is also home to Stratford International station which is situated closer to the City of London and Canary Wharf than King’s Cross St. Pancras. T he Stratford station hub is now used by over 100 million passengers a year.

Key points

1. The proposed HS1-HS2 link, even with some improvements suggested in the recent consultation by HS2 Ltd, is a shared single track link between the existing Channel Tunnel Rail Link and Freight and passenger lines – allowing up to only 3 trains an hour. This link will limit the potential to maximise the growth and regeneration benefits that high speed rail could bring to the UK due to its insufficient capacity.

2. The single track link is not adequate to address the demand which is anticipated. It will immediately pit the use of a small number of train paths for international services against further development of a wide range of domestic services to UK wide destinations and inhibit any growth in international traffic. As it stands, the proposed link restricts direct access for both the Midlands and Northern cities to East London and the wider catchment including Kent and Essex (16% of the UK ’s population) and vice versa .

3. The Government and HS2 have not strategically addressed the issue of how the link can be fully utilised to enable additional services; in fact the proposed refined design limits any future growth of either international or domestic services – also potentially missing an opportunity to alleviate the pressure on the terminus. As a result the revised link proposal will add significant costs to the project, while worsening the business case for the network, by not enabling any extra services.

4. A link with much enhanced capacity such as a dedicated twin track link (a feasibility study of which was prematurely stopped) would enable a whole new array of inter-regional, intra-regional and international rail services from the Midlands, North West and Yorkshire to seamlessly link with East London , Kent and Essex . The recent report "Travel market demand and the HS1 – HS2 link" by Greengauge 21, found there is a substantial market for domestic high sipped services over the link. It comprises travel demand between the city regions in the Midlands and the North served by HS2 and the strong growth area of East London , served by Stratford International, as well as South East London, Kent and Essex. As an indication of scale this amounts to as much as 45% of the equivalent market from the HS2 catchment to and from central London . Demand is forecast to be highest where East London and Docklands are served (from Stratford), on both inter-urban long distance services to the West Midlands and the North West, but also on regional services to North West London, Milton Keynes and Heathrow. Transfers from other travel modes would also bring wider benefits not just to the link but the wider network, strengthening the overall business case for HS2. The MVA evidence suggests that there is perhaps demand for a 7 train per hour service (in each direction) which is unlikely to be accommodated on a single track arrangement allowing up to 3 trains per hour, required for international services.

5. The Government’s current assessment is that the proposed link provides sufficient capacity to meet the projected demand. However, departmental analysis by the Department for Transport (DfT) has only considered the demand for international services from Birmingham that are likely to operate on the single track link. This work, including the September 2010 Atkins report does not look into the impact of further high speed trains from the North West and Yorkshire (2nd phase of the network). More importantly, it fails to consider the potential for high speed domestic services in both directions, linking the Thames gateway corridor of East London , Kent and Essex with the Midlands and the North respectively via the route. As such, no forecast of the resultant growth from these additional services has been identified.

6. It is imperative that the HS2 network incorporates a link to HS1 of sufficient capacity from the outset to capitalise on the value of the investment. It is short-sighted to not include a link of sufficient, resilient capacity to accommodate the growth of further services. The proposed solution is likely to create bottlenecks and congestion that cannot be resolved without incurring even greater costs.

7. Despite HS1 and HS2 being designed, built and operated as dual-purpose passenger railways (international and domestic) the link between the networks, the tangible manifestation of the second phase in the development of the UKs high speed rail network, is only planning for international use and therefore no forecast of the resultant growth from additional domestic services has been identified. This is not only a clear omission in the evidence base for the link but misses an opportunity to contribute to the business case for the whole network.

8. It is also important to note the demand for London orbital rail travel. The potential of provision matched in the east, through an enhanced complementary role for Stratford , with the west of London (Old Oak Common) to provide additional capacity and alleviate congestion in the Central Activity Zone cannot be ignored. A greater capacity link would enable Stratford International to play a supportive role in serving additional growth relieving some of the pressure placed on Euston.

9. Utilising the existing infrastructure at Stratford – now the 6th busiest rail hub in the UK , more than Euston or Paddington stations - would enable additional new passengers from inter-regional traffic therefore improving train viability. T he infrastructure is already in place and the handling capacity and passenger use over the last few years has exceeded all projections . Due to its business location, enviable capacity, unrivalled connectivity and nearly £1bn of public investment to make it fit for its purpose as a high speed stop, Stratford International Station could immediately fulfil the role of the London stop for international services originating in the regions and be utilised as a national and International transport hub for the Thames Gateway.

10. Were there to be a new hub airport to the east of London or if capacity at airports such as Stansted, Southend, London City and Manston are to be maximised, the demand for High Speed rail and therefore the link will become even more important in the movement of passengers.

11. The current realities of the economy in East London , increasing visitor numbers and the pace of change is significant. The level of confidence expressed by local, continental and other global investors is a demonstration of the current level of interest in East London . This current trend is likely to continue at an exponential rate over the next twenty years based on current investment patterns, public sector investment and the continued importance of London as a global hub and destination. The patterns of growth in the East London sub-region in terms of job numbers, population growth and visitor numbers are also too statistically significant to ignore. The economic resurgence of East London and the Thames Gateway corridor to East Anglia and Kent is highlighted by recent updates in jobs growth as well as population. Within a five kilometre radius of Stratford there is around £19 Billion of investment planned, the population will grow to over 2 million and there will be around a further 90,000 new homes.

12. In short the centre of gravity in London is moving East and over the next 25 years London’s growth will be concentrated in this area, whilst the regions to the east and south east are amongst the fastest growing areas of the country and are currently poorly served by the link proposals. The current link proposals risk reducing or stalling opportunities to increase trade between the regional economies and at worst stalling the development of East London and the South East by maintaining too much focus on connectivity with the London Central Activity Zone and failing to underpin further place-making throughout the 20,000sq km catchment of the South East. Current proposals also limit the potential for economic interaction between northern UK regions, east London and Europe, which will contribute to the business case for the network.

13. In concluding, it is imperative the Government look at other alternative options for the link including a dual track segregated link given existing and forecast demand projections. This investment is for a high speed railway intended to last into the next century and it is important it is built from the outset with sustainable facilities for its long term operation. The proposed link is not adequate to address the demand which is anticipated and will prevent the development of a wide range of services across rail mode types to operate on the network serving UK wide destinations and will inhibit any growth in international traffic.

14. As with any project of this scale designed to encourage growth rather than just improve capacity and journey times, the Government will want to continue to update all aspects of the business case and ensure investment decisions are informed by the latest evidence, data and understanding of the project.

July 2013

Prepared 18th July 2013