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Impact of the HS2 review

Questions to the Mayor of London – answered on 6th November 2019.

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Photo of Onkar Sahota Onkar Sahota Labour

Given the uncertainty caused by the recent HS2 review, how can we work to ensure that we ultimately get an HS2 plan which works for London?

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

Thank you, Chair. On 3 September [2019] the Secretary of State for Transport announced that each phase of High Speed 2 (HS2) is likely to be delayed by up to five years and that the costs have risen from £62 billion to over £80 billion, an increase in the budget of £18 billion. Given this, I am supportive of the HS2 review looking at how savings can be made.

I have written to Doug Oakervee [CBE], the Chair of the review, setting out my support for the new capacity provided by HS2 and the issues pertinent to London. The review team also met with my Deputy Mayor for Planning, Regeneration and Skills and the TfL Commissioner in September.

The terms of reference for the review referred to the possibility of services terminating at Old Oak Common. I set out the implications of this for the Elizabeth line. Termination of HS2 service at Old Oak would mean the Elizabeth line would be full by the time it reached central London, fundamentally undermining the benefits of the Elizabeth line, but even Euston’s current Tube connections will not be able to cope with a fully built HS2, which is why they need Crossrail 2.

Similarly, if there is no Old Oak Common station then the Victoria and Northern lines will not be able to cope with the passenger demand at Euston. Having stations at Old Oak and Euston will ensure HS2 brings much-needed relief to many commuter lines into London by freeing up capacity and enabling more regional services from stations such as Watford Junction and Milton Keynes. HS2 will also regenerate large areas of London. The Opportunity Areas at Old Oak Common and Euston have the potential for 95,000 jobs and 27,000 homes. Without HS2, this growth would be at risk.

I suggested that the review team should look at the speed of the new service as a lower-speed scheme could deliver many of the benefits at a lower cost. Rather than speed the focus should instead be on creating new capacity, not least to provide relief to the existing crowded service out of Euston and King’s Cross. My team are continuing to work with the DfT and HS2 to support their considerations around how to reduce costs while still achieving the results that London needs.

Photo of Onkar Sahota Onkar Sahota Labour

Thank you, Mr Mayor, for that answer. In July 2019 Liz Peace [CBE], the Chair of the OPDC, said,

“If we do not have HS2 it would put a whole different complexion on what we can do at Old Oak, especially in the next ten to 20 years. In my personal view, it would probably set back the regeneration of that area of London by about 20 years.”

Do you agree with Liz that the current plans for Old Oak do not work if HS2 is cancelled?

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

The Chair of OPDC is absolutely right. If the Government decides not to have a station at Old Oak we have to, in my view, re-look at the development at Old Oak Common because the jobs and the homes are contingent upon improved infrastructure. If there is no station there that leads to a limited improvement in infrastructure.

Photo of Onkar Sahota Onkar Sahota Labour

Supposing the terminus becomes HS2 and it says Old Oak rather than Euston, what is the impact of that?

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

No, we need both. As I said in my answer to your original question, Euston needs a new station there for a variety of reasons, including the Elizabeth line. One of the reasons we are concerned about the current Euston plans is that it would redevelop it all at the same time. We need Crossrail 2 as well because any gains made from one line are lost unless we can improve capacity. My focus with HS2 is less on speed, more on the capacity increase. There should be a station at Euston and Old Oak Common. We cannot have one without the other.

Photo of Onkar Sahota Onkar Sahota Labour

Great. Thank you, Mr Mayor.