Published 22nd May 2013
The Queen’s Speech to Parliament included ‘Hybrid Bill’ which will allow the construction of ‘High Speed Two’ railway line to commence.
The small print attached to the Notice says that ‘The Bill would provide the Government with the legal powers to compulsorily acquire the land needed to construct the High Speed 2 (HS2) railway and operate it’.
When the legislation is enabled, it gives the Government what they call ‘deemed planning permission’ to deliver the scheme. This is despite the final planning details having to be developed for the route with the local planning authorities. But how much consultation will take place will be a debating point as the Bill includes compulsory purchase and temporary possession powers for any land required to deliver the project.
The Bill would also provide the Government with the right to build and maintain the line as well as giving those directly affected by HS2, the right to petition Parliament and have their case heard by the Bill Select Committee. The Bill would mainly apply to England, but some parts will include Scottish and Welsh Legislation to enable HS2 building providing further afield.
Her Majesty said: “My government will continue to invest in infrastructure to deliver jobs and growth for the economy.
“Legislation will be introduced to enable the building of the ‘High Speed Two’ railway line, providing further opportunities for economic growth in many of Britain’s cities.”
Institution of Civil Engineers director general Nick Baveystock said: “HS2 presents an opportunity to bring about a real step change in rail capacity and help regenerate and boost the economies of our city-regions.
“It is important however that these benefits are realised across the UK as a whole at the very earliest opportunity. A supplementary Paving Bill, granting spending powers to fast-track work on both phases, should prove a catalyst in achieving this..”
The ongoing reviews of HS2 still sees Euston Station being redeveloped and improved but without the requirement to lower and rebuild all the existing platforms this reducing disruption to rail passengers and the local community.
Euston Station remains the southern terminus for HS2, but further work done by HS2 Ltd, suggests that much of the original plans can be slimmed down thus obviating the need to demolish and rebuild the entire station, the sixth busiest on the UK rail network.
The revised plan is to build a raft over the platforms (as now) with potentially homes, offices and shops on it. Lower down, new HS2 platforms and facilities will be built, and better connectivity with Underground services provided in a redeveloped, integrated station with a new Underground ticket hall. A sub-surface pedestrian link between Euston and Euston Square plus an east-west pedestrian routes across the station will also be provided.
HS2 Ltd acknowledges the work done into the potential of the area around and above Euston as part of Camden Council’s Euston Area Plan and it must be remembered that Camden Council probably has more rail construction experience than most after having Thameslink construction planning and work ongoing for 15 years.
HS2 Ltd Chief Executive Alison Munro said: “HS2 will be an engine for growth that supports the creation of thousands of jobs for Londoners, provides extra space on the existing lines for more commuter services, and improved connectivity with our great northern cities.
“Community concerns have been raised about the potential disruption caused by the redevelopment of Euston Station. Following more work done by our engineers to find the best way to deliver best value for taxpayers, we have identified an option that we believe delivers great opportunities for the area while minimising the potential effects on local communities in Camden and on passengers.
The revised option will retain platforms 1-15 at Euston except platforms 9 and 10, used by London Midland and London Overground, will go to allow adjacent platforms to be lengthened providing 13 long platforms. HS2 will use 11 new platforms adjacent to the existing platforms.
More reviewing by the HS2 engineers suggest that the line runs in a tunnel under Ealing and Northolt that could reduce the construction time by 15 months reducing disruption to residents and traffic in north west London.
The latest HS2 Ltd proposal is that HS2 runs in a tunnel between Old Oak Common and Northolt as this will caused less disruption to traffic and taken longer to build. The Secretary of State for Transport is ‘minded’ to approve the new 9km bored tunnel between North Acton (near Old Oak Common) and Northolt. This means HS2 would run in a 14km tunnel from Old Oak Common to West Ruislip, longer than any Crossrail tunnel.
Originally, HS2 was going to run through north west London following a little used railway line that linked Paddington in GWR days running alongside the Central Line. This would have meant many new bridges and replacing both spans of the Hanger Lane gyratory but instead, just two vent shafts would be needed between North Acton and Northolt.
More of HS2 could run in a tunnel under the M6 following more evaluation of the route in the west midlands. HS2 will now suggest the line goes under Bromford Viaduct which carries the M6 motorway between Castle Bromwich and Gravelley Hill.
Originally, HS2 followed the Derby to Birmingham route requiring a major remodelling of a busy junction between the A47 - Bromford Lane and Heartlands Parkway. The revised plan also means that diverting the River Tame and building flood defences are no longer required. Less land will also be required reducing the impact on the local community.
Alison Munro, HS2 Ltd chief executive, said: "Following a review of the alternatives a tunnel design was considered to be the preferred option as it proved to be less complex in engineering terms and would avoid the loss of local community facilities including the local schools' playing fields and social clubs including Bromford Residents' Club and Bromford Neighbourhood Office.
Physical HS2 construction work should commence in three years and provide thousands of local jobs along the line of route. All the proposed changes to the original plan will be subject to environmental surveys and consultation.
Written by Phil Marsh