Examination of Witnesses

High Speed Rail (Preparation) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:00 am on 9th July 2013.

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CouncillorSarah Hayward and CouncillorJane Urquart gave evidence.

Photo of Annette Brooke Annette Brooke Chair of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Party 12:00 pm, 9th July 2013

We will now hear oral evidence from the London borough of Camden and Nottingham city council. I remind all Members that questions should be limited to matters within the scope of the Bill, and that we must stick to the timings in the programme motion the Committee has just agreed. I will have to interrupt mid-sentence if a session is still continuing at its scheduled finish time—apologies to our witnesses if that happens.

Members should declare any interests before the start of each panel in which that interest is relevant. I shall also ask our witnesses to declare any financial interests during the evidence sessions. Will the witnesses introduce themselves and tell us the positions they hold? I will then call Lilian Greenwood, who will commence the questioning for us this morning.

Sarah Hayward: I am Councillor Sarah Hayward, the leader of the London borough of Camden.

Jane Urquart: I am Councillor Jane Urquart, the cabinet member for transport and planning for Nottingham city council.

Q 1

Photo of Lilian Greenwood Lilian Greenwood Shadow Minister (Transport)

Councillor Hayward, in your submission you said you do not believe that High Speed 2 will deliver the Government’s strategic objectives. Do you believe that high-speed rail in general is a poor investment, or is your opposition based more on the details of this particular proposal?

Sarah Hayward: Our position is very much based on the details of this individual proposal. Camden has a history of big regeneration projects—indeed, it is unique as the only borough in the country that has regeneration with high-speed rail partially as its anchor in the King’s Cross railway lands. This scheme would be devastating to Camden and, as it stands at the moment with the scaled back station proposals, would actually lose us jobs and opportunities, rather than be an engine for growth as the Government currently claim.

Q 2

Photo of Lilian Greenwood Lilian Greenwood Shadow Minister (Transport)

If the project does go ahead, what benefits would you like to see for the Euston area, and how do the proposals fall short?

Sarah Hayward: We supported regeneration of the Euston area a long time before High Speed 2 came on the table. I do not know whether anybody on the Committee regularly uses Euston station, but it is not the nicest train station in the world, and the area itself could do with some investment in terms of jobs and new homes. It sits in one of the poorest communities in the country.

The plans as they stand are dramatically scaled back, but will still cost £400 million more than HS2 had budgeted. We would like some comprehensive investment in the Euston area. That needs to include considering whether a temporary solution at Old Oak Common could give us time to get Euston right. I do not think that HS2 has considered all the options for Euston  station, such as the double deck down proposal or other options to keep the station on the footprint that it is now. Certainly, we are not getting the investment in terms of jobs and homes that we were promised at the outset of the project.

Q 3

Photo of Lilian Greenwood Lilian Greenwood Shadow Minister (Transport)

Are there realistic options for developing Euston within its existing station envelope, to avoid the sort of disruption to the local area that you are concerned about?

Sarah Hayward: I am not a railway engineer, but people who are think that there are realistic options to explore things such as double deck down, which is a two-tiered track with the classic tracks above and the high-speed tracks below. That is one option; then there are options to move some of the suburban services to other London train stations and reduce the pressure on Euston station in that way. We do not think that all the alternatives have been properly considered. HS2 jumped straight to a proposal that requires it to demolish buildings, homes and businesses on a piece of land the size of the current St Pancras station.

Q 4

Photo of Lilian Greenwood Lilian Greenwood Shadow Minister (Transport)

I know that you said specifically that you are dissatisfied with HS2 Ltd’s compensation proposals, and those are in the Bill. What compensation would you like to see available and what hopes do you have for the Government’s revised compensation package?

Sarah Hayward: The compensation package, as we understand it, is wholly inadequate for the devastation that will be caused in Camden, not just in the Euston area but across the whole borough. My understanding is that HS2 currently has about £1.3 billion allocated for compensation across the whole of phase 1. We estimate—we are doing more work to understand this—that around £1 billion of compensation is needed to re-house people, compensate businesses, provide relocation costs and so on in Camden. That has simply not been budgeted for at all. It is wholly inadequate at the moment.

Q 5

Photo of Caroline Spelman Caroline Spelman Conservative, Meriden

I should explain that I come from a west midlands constituency, which will help you to understand where I am coming from. When High Speed 1 was built, the regions outside London were encouraged to think in terms of regional high-speed travel. In your evidence, you said that,

“there is no business case for the link to High Speed 1” whereas in the regions beyond London, the link to High Speed 1 is important when considering High Speed 2. Your evidence focuses very much around Euston, but High Speed 1 comes out of St Pancras. Has your council looked at a connection to St Pancras if it is so difficult for Euston?

Sarah Hayward: It is not we who say there is no business case for the link between High Speed 1 and High Speed 2; it is actually High Speed 2 that says that. It proposes to use the North London line, which is one of the most successful railways in the country in terms of customer satisfaction and punctuality, and putting High Speed 2 along that line would potentially jeopardise that. It takes less than 10 minutes to walk from Euston to St Pancras. People in Paris walk between Gare du  Nord and Gare de l’Est. I do not see that there is any need for a link that would disrupt suburban rail travel in London.

Q 6

Photo of Caroline Spelman Caroline Spelman Conservative, Meriden

To pursue that line of argument, if you clear immigration at Birmingham international airport and board a train at the interchange, after which you have a through train to Paris or Amsterdam, there is a significant advantage in not having to get off the train, come back through immigration and re-board the train.

Sarah Hayward: I can see that, but—again, I am not an immigration specialist—under that proposal, would the train not stop anywhere else, or do you need immigration controls at every station at which it stops between Birmingham and St Pancras? There are plenty of other cities in the world that have high-speed rail where people interchange at different stations to go to different locations in the country. Again, High Speed 2 and the Department for Transport have not considered other options. They have not considered tunnelling under Camden, they have not considered walking between the two stations and they have not considered the differential impact. We do not think that the viaduct is viable or that there is a business case for it.

Q 7

Photo of Frank Dobson Frank Dobson Labour, Holborn and St Pancras

Sarah, could you explain to the Committee the physical impact of the proposal to use the North London line on the part of Camden that that line crosses?

Sarah Hayward: Yes. For those who are not familiar with Camden, the proposal is that the railway line will come out of a tunnel just by Primrose Hill, which is to the west side of central Camden Town. It is one of the top 10 tourist destinations not just in London or the UK but in Europe, and it has a thriving local economy. The proposal will require eight bridges over eight mostly major roads to be strengthened or wholly rebuilt, although we do not know which because the structural engineering work has not been done to check that they can use the line. That would have a devastating impact on Camden Town’s economy through major road closures, both for people travelling to Camden Town and for people travelling through Camden Town on their way into central London to jobs. It has just not been thought through at all.

Q 8

Photo of Frank Dobson Frank Dobson Labour, Holborn and St Pancras

As far as you know, is the estimated cost of the HS2-HS1 link included in the current estimates that are bandied about?

Sarah Hayward: Not as far as I know. We think that the money could be used better at Euston station.

Q 9

Photo of Iain Stewart Iain Stewart Conservative, Milton Keynes South

To follow on from Caroline Spelman’s questions about the link to HS1, would you be in favour of a link to HS1 that does not involve using the North London line? Is that your principal objection?

Sarah Hayward: We object to the proposal to use the North London line. It was ruled out as an option for High Speed 1 and it was decided that it was better to build a new tunnel, because of the structural problems with the Victorian viaduct that it runs on. We have not seen any other options for linking them up, because HS2 has not done any other options. We think that they could tunnel, and we do think that walking could be a  viable alternative, but HS2 needs to go away and do this work. This proposal will be devastating to Camden Town’s economy.

Q 10

Photo of Iain Stewart Iain Stewart Conservative, Milton Keynes South

To press this further, I understand—but I do not think it is practical—the idea of having a walking solution between the two stations. If there were a viable project to tunnel between the two, would you, as a council, object to that?

Sarah Hayward: It would depend on what it was and if it was an improvement. We would need to see the detail of a scheme. We do not object out of hand to things. As I said when comparing this scheme to the High Speed 1 scheme, we think a tunnel could be better and a vastly improved solution to using the North London line link, but High Speed 2 need to do the work and the engineering, and we would then have to assess what disruption and what have you it would cause Camden Town. I cannot object to or support a scheme I do not know the detail of, but we do think a tunnel would be better than the current proposal.

Q 11

Photo of Iain Stewart Iain Stewart Conservative, Milton Keynes South

Finally, have you spoken to your colleagues in Newham council, who I believe advocate using Stratford International as a London hub for connecting HS2 to HS1?

Sarah Hayward: Yes, and I think that is another option that has not been explored. Obviously, it takes seven minutes to get from Stratford to St Pancras, and HS2 should be exploring all these options. Stratford has just had massive investment as a railway station, and the platforms are there, ready to be used. That is an option HS2 needs to explore.

Q 12

Photo of Pat Glass Pat Glass Labour, North West Durham

Sarah and Jane, can you tell us about your engagement with HS2 Ltd—its consultation with the community and the local authority?

Jane Urquart: In Nottingham, we have had considerable engagement with HS2. We have been engaged in meetings with them for quite some time now and we had a visit from them recently, all of which has been helpful in enabling HS2 to understand a bit more about the level of work they need to do in engaging with local communities. Certainly, I am not aware that they have done much active engagement with local communities as yet in Nottingham, but I know from their visit that they are aware that that is the next phase for them. There is a need for HS2 to improve their understanding of the way the connectivity will work between the major population centres and the HS2 line as it runs up through the east midlands in particular. I will probably say more about that, but it is one they need to engage much more actively with.

Q 13

Photo of Pat Glass Pat Glass Labour, North West Durham

So there is some contact with the local authority?

Jane Urquart: Yes, absolutely.

Q 14

Jane Urquart: We have not seen the fruits, if you see what I mean, but we have certainly had positive engagement.

Q 15

Photo of Pat Glass Pat Glass Labour, North West Durham

But so far not too much engagement with the community?

Jane Urquart: Not too much engagement with the community so far, but certainly engagement with us.

Sarah Hayward: I think our experience of HS2 is one of our main reasons for our opposition to writing them a blank cheque. Our experience has been pretty poor. We have been speaking to them for over two years. Some 80% of the demolition that happens in phase 1 happens in Camden, where 470 homes and countless businesses will go. Obviously, those people need compensating and need alternative places to live and work from. There is a very pressing need; the spades are supposed to go in the ground in 2016—three years away—and we are not getting the level of engagement and commitment that we need out of High Speed 2 to be able to develop plans to rebuild a school, to replace 470 homes, to help businesses relocate and to re-provide open space. We keep getting, “We’re talking to Camden,” but we have not seen any tangible outcome in terms of compensation or proposals to help us deal with the impacts, and that is us, as a local authority.

If you talk to the community, our community forums are very poorly serviced by HS2. We got to the point where our council officers were taking minutes because HS2 were unable to provide accurate minutes of community meetings. That does not instil confidence when this organisation wants to come and bulldoze homes, I am afraid. So we are really worried about the capacity of HS2 to deliver on a fairly fundamental level.

Q 16

Photo of Caroline Spelman Caroline Spelman Conservative, Meriden

It is very interesting to listen to you talk about your engagement and the role of the council and the community. Are you aware that, in other local authorities, it is the council that takes the minutes and runs the working groups with the community, precisely because the elected representatives of the community are seen to have the interests of local people at heart? Those working groups are, of course, attended by High Speed 2 officials, who must answer all the questions that are put to them, but mostly electors feel reassured when the local authority holds the pen, don’t you think?

Sarah Hayward: No, it is a drain on council resources at a time when we face the biggest cuts that we have ever faced. There is no financial aid for us to facilitate all the work that we are required to do for HS2. If you ask Martin Tett the same question this afternoon, he will say that other local authorities take the minutes because they do not trust HS2 to do it, not because they want to provide officers at endless evening meetings.

Q 17

Photo of Nicholas Dakin Nicholas Dakin Opposition Whip (Commons)

Jane, how do you see the advantages or otherwise to the east midlands? In particular, would you pick up on HS2’s suggestion of a station at Toton? Are there any issues of connectivity there, or is that the preference of people in the east midlands?

Jane Urquart: We in Nottingham support a high-speed network. One of the reasons is the need for greater connectivity between other cities as well as London. For us, it is about connectivity to Leeds, Birmingham, Sheffield and all those places enabled by a high-speed network that would be really significant. We have had conversations for some time with HS2 about station location. Although  for us in Nottingham a city centre station would perhaps have been an ideal solution in some ways, in many other ways a city centre station would not be ideal, for some of the reasons that Sarah has talked about. It is difficult and the impact would be great, so we are quite content that Toton provides a positive option for Nottingham.

Clearly the biggest issue to resolve for a Toton station is the connectivity into it. People will be aware that we are currently building tram lines in Nottingham, and the end of one of our tram lines is very close to the proposed Toton site. That is one thing that we will explore further with HS2. However a tram connection is not sufficient; we will need to explore much further the connectivity into the city centre and the use of classic-compatible trains to get high-speed rail right into Nottingham city centre. That will be a big issue for us, because we can see great advantages for being on the high-speed network.

Given the three cities that drive the east midlands economy—Nottingham, Derby and Leicester—having a station at Toton makes sense for all of them to have access. Clearly on a high-speed network, it would be unfeasible to have all three cities directly linked in, because you would soon lose the high-speed bit of the system. So Toton is a reasonable option, but connectivity needs a great deal more thought and active planning from HS2 to get it right.

Q 18

Photo of Nicholas Dakin Nicholas Dakin Opposition Whip (Commons)

Are there any disadvantages to the east midlands if this does not go ahead?

Jane Urquart: Yes, considerable disadvantages. Our rail connectivity to London and other large cities is currently quite poor in terms of time. Upgrades are needed in any case, whether HS2 happens or not, to the midland main line to improve those rail times, but this is still not sufficient to increase capacity on the rail network or to bring our city closer in terms of travel time to those other cities, particularly Birmingham and Leeds. That, as well as the connection to London, would be very significant for our economy.

Q 19

Photo of Khalid Mahmood Khalid Mahmood Labour, Birmingham, Perry Barr

Sarah, you keep saying that Euston to St Pancras is a seven or 10-minute walk. Have you considered the effect of this on people with disabilities, elderly people with baggage and families with really young children, again with considerable baggage? I am glad that we have some good weather today, but generally that is not the position in London or the UK. How would you address that?

Sarah Hayward: The current situation is that if someone wants to go on a service that comes into Euston and another that goes out from St Pancras, they have to walk between the two stations. That will not change with our domestic classic rail services between the two stations. Currently, disabled people, those trying to carry small children and the elderly, who are perhaps not as mobile, are disadvantaged and that will remain the case, because the link only affects the high-speed line and not the traditional lines. Anyone who is familiar with the area will be familiar with people pulling wheelie cases along the Euston road; that is what happens and what will continue to happen. It is one reason why I think HS2 should explore other options for linking the two stations.

Q 20

Photo of Graeme Morrice Graeme Morrice Labour, Livingston

Either Sarah or Jane, I would like to press you more on the issue of compensation. You have clearly indicated that you are not satisfied with the proposal coming from HS2 Ltd, and obviously you would like to see a revised compensation package coming from the Government; but have you been able to quantify financially what kind of compensation package you would like to see for your local community?

Sarah Hayward: We are in the process of doing that at the moment and we have hired independent consultants to do it. We estimate that it will be about £1 billion—that will be the bricks and mortar cost of replacing the homes, open space, school, and so on that are all impacted in Camden. We know that HS2 has not budgeted for that level of compensation. We hope to say something more publicly about that in the next few weeks.

Q 21

Photo of Caroline Spelman Caroline Spelman Conservative, Meriden

Councillor Hayward, obviously your location means that a significant mix of businesses and houses are affected. You have referred to the 474 homes that would have to be demolished in phase 1, but do you know how many business properties are affected, and have you estimated what compensation would be due if business properties were eligible?

Sarah Hayward: The business compensation is a big issue at the moment, and it is not clear at all how that will work. We had an issue with Crossrail 1, where some businesses were not compensated until nine months after their businesses had been closed for the Tottenham Court Road station work. Obviously, we want to ensure that that does not happen, because people need to be able to relocate their businesses.

In the Euston area, my recollection—I do not have the figure to hand; I am happy to provide it later for the Committee—is that 2,500 jobs will go as a result of the demolition in the Euston area, and obviously, there is the knock-on impact in Camden Town that we have talked about, with the link. There are already blight impacts—several planning permissions are not being implemented that would provide jobs if they were implemented. Then there are the knock-on impacts: one of those is on a street full of restaurants and leisure activities that would be cut off from Euston station. They get up to 50% of their trade from passing Euston station traffic. We cannot quantify what that impact will be until we know what the construction methods and programme will be, but we know it will be pretty devastating to those businesses. HS2 really needs to work with us to understand those impacts and compensate businesses appropriately, and that is not being done at the moment.

Q 22

Photo of Lilian Greenwood Lilian Greenwood Shadow Minister (Transport)

The Bill mentions that the existing network should connect

“with the existing railway transport network.”

Do you think that is sufficient explanation in the Bill, or do you have concerns about the way that the high-speed rail line as proposed might connect with the existing so-called classic network?

Jane Urquart: I do have some concerns about connectivity. I am glad that that phrase is in there, so that there is some mention of connectivity, but I think that HS2 really needs to promote very actively and work  very hard to make that connectivity with the classic network a fundamental part of developing High Speed 2. If the classic network is not connected into High Speed 2, in a sense, you simply have two different sets of railways. You have a classic network and a high-speed network, and not an integrated and connected network.

One of the things that we know in Nottingham, having developed quite a lot of integrated transport projects, is that integration is the key to enabling people to choose to use different modes of transport and to reducing congestion, car journeys and all that. Enabling people to make that choice is about having things that are properly integrated and properly connected, so that it is simple and easy to make the transition. For us, more positive statements about connectivity into the classic network, and using classic-compatible rolling stock to run services in to and out of different places that are not directly on the HS2 line, would be an added positive. That would then bring greater economic benefit and enable economic benefits of that connectivity between northern cities and the midlands to be more fully realised.

Sarah Hayward: For me, it is not just the link to the classic network, although I endorse everything that Jane said. It is other forms of transport. A key problem we face at Euston is moving people away from Euston station if there is a massive increase in passenger numbers, and the ability of the tube and the local bus network to cope with those increased passenger numbers. Again, we are not seeing the level of planning that we would expect to cope with the plans for high-speed rail.

Q 23

Photo of Frank Dobson Frank Dobson Labour, Holborn and St Pancras

To return to the question of compensation, could you explain Camden’s concerns about the likely inadequate compensation for right-to-buy leaseholders of properties that might be affected?

Sarah Hayward: Yes. About 20% to 25% of the properties affected are of right-to-buy leaseholders, almost all on the Regent’s Park estate, which you can look up on a map. It is just to the west of Euston station. Having invested in the equity of their communities, they would not have sufficient equity in their right-to-buy property to buy a new flat in the local area. Many of those people will be significantly disadvantaged.

A two-bedroom right-to-buy property on the Regent’s Park estate would currently sell for about £250,000 to £270,000. A new build two-bedroom home in Camden would market from anywhere upwards of £450,000. That is the nature of the property market in Camden. There is going to be a significant disadvantage to people who invested in the equity of their communities and have roots in the local area, send their kids to local schools, work in local jobs and go to local churches.

Q 24

Photo of Iain Stewart Iain Stewart Conservative, Milton Keynes South

I would like to follow up a comment Sarah Haywood made about the onward journeys for passengers arriving at Euston. Would you not accept that a potential link with Crossrail at Old Oak Common would deflect a number of passengers from Euston? Secondly, in the recent spending review the Chancellor announced funding for a feasibility study for Crossrail 2, with many of the plans involving calling at Euston. Would that be sufficient to allay your concerns?

Sarah Hayward: The passenger numbers we are concerned about are HS2’s passenger numbers based on a link into Crossrail at Old Oak Common. The justification  for using Euston station as the terminus is based on claims about passenger numbers coming into Euston. Currently the capacity does not exist in the tube or bus network to get passengers away from Euston station.

In principle, we support greater investment in regional transport in London, including the potential for Crossrail 2 —obviously, we have not seen the scheme. They are not being brought forward together. If Crossrail 2 is ever funded, it would be delivered some time after HS2. HS2 is due to open at Euston station in 2026 and people will need to be able to get away from Euston station from 2026.

Q 25

Photo of Nicholas Dakin Nicholas Dakin Opposition Whip (Commons)

You have both talked about the importance of good connectivity to HS2. Are the costs of that going to be borne by local authorities or are you being supported by HS2? Or is that not clear at the moment?

Sarah Hayward: For us it is not clear.

Jane Urquart: I would echo that. It is not clear; it is something that we have raised with HS2. It is something that we feel they need to do more work on. We in Nottingham and the east midlands hope a successful high-speed network will happen because we think it is right for the economy in the east midlands. However, the only way that that network will be successful is if, before and during the construction, the connectivity is properly planned in, rather than being something you can add on at some point separately. It all needs to be planned as one, as well as thinking through the land-use planning that goes alongside that, along the line of route, and all those things. All that needs to be properly planned ahead of time, rather than simply assuming that all the local authorities along the route will, of their own accord and separately, do the right thing. We think that HS2 needs to engage better with that issue. It would be very helpful to have greater clarity on that, and it would be helpful if connectivity was a more fundamental part of the business planning and processes.

Q 26

Photo of Lilian Greenwood Lilian Greenwood Shadow Minister (Transport)

A general question for both of you: in your experience, how effective is rail or transport infrastructure as a catalyst of economic growth?

Sarah Hayward: It can be an exceptional driver for economic growth. I mentioned the King’s Cross railway lands earlier, and re-doing the stations and bringing High Speed 1 in has been a real driver. As a local authority, we campaigned with local MPs for High Speed 1 to come in to St Pancras station, to safeguard the station and drive the regeneration. It will provide 25,000 jobs and 2,000 new homes. It is an incredible transformation of a site that had been derelict for 40 years. We support the right regeneration schemes, but I am afraid that this is simply the wrong one for the Euston area.

Jane Urquart: I agree that transport can be a very positive catalyst of regeneration. We have seen that in Nottingham with building line 1 of our tram network. It has had a significant impact on property values and on business investment along line 1. We have already seen business investment along lines 2 and 3, which we are now building. There is already a business park that has a number of tenants who have locate there specifically because there will be a tram line.

It can be a very positive catalyst of economic growth and regeneration, but it has to be planned properly and thought through in the right way, so that those things happen. It is not automatic that transport provides that regeneration; it has to be part of the planning, and it has certainly been part of the planning of our station regeneration scheme in Nottingham. Part of the reason for redeveloping our Nottingham station is the regeneration of an area, but that has been possible only because we have done it as a multi-operator, multi-agency operation, which has looked very carefully at planning and transport together, to ensure that things work together to get the right kind of business and residential investment in the area.

Q 27

Photo of Lilian Greenwood Lilian Greenwood Shadow Minister (Transport)

Can you say a little more about what is needed in the project to make it act as the catalyst you have described it can be, but which it is not automatically? That is a question to both of you.

Sarah Hayward: What happened on the King’s Cross railway lands is what Jane has just described—a multi-agency approach of support. Not every partner got every single little thing they wanted out of the development—I probably would have argued for more affordable housing, for example—but it was a coming together of Network Rail, a developer, the local authority, the voluntary sector and other partners locally, to develop a vision for the area, identifying the key elements they wanted out of the site—for example, residential, jobs, open space—and working together to deliver on that.

Currently, that option is not available at Euston station. With HS1, there was a temporary solution at Waterloo station while the King’s Cross site and the St Pancras station option were got right, and we urge that that be seriously considered here. Euston station is not even a once-in-a-generation opportunity; we will build High Speed 2 only once, if it goes ahead. Euston station should be got right, and if the way to do that is to bring High Speed 2 into Old Oak Common for a time—let us not try to do it quickly and on the cheap—let us get it right and deliver the thousands of jobs and hundreds of homes that could be delivered with a proper comprehensive redevelopment of Euston station, with all the partners around the table able to support it.

Jane Urquart: I agree that partnership is the way to do it right. Because of where we are in the east midlands, in terms of the phasing, we have got an opportunity to build those kinds of partnerships, if HS2 is willing to do that with us, in order that we can get the right connectivity for us into the city, but also the right solutions for the land around Toton, where the station is going to be.

We have already done—and are doing—some joint work already with Nottinghamshire county council and Broxtowe borough council to try to identify what it is that will need to be in place to ensure that Toton, as the east midlands hub station, works in the right way to produce that regeneration effect, and to produce that economic and housing benefit. We have started that work collectively, as three local authorities, and we think once we have done that work we would like to widen it out into a partnership approach—saying, “What is it that we need around that station location to mean that there will be the optimum regeneration effect from HS2?”

We have time to do that, but it does need the buy-in of Network Rail for the classic lines, East Midlands Trains, the current rail operators, and all the local authorities all to work together, to come up with that right vision and get it set early. I think there is an opportunity for us, because the dates for us are a little further away than for Sarah, but that is the right way to do it. That means that planning policy has to be appropriately aligned as well.

Again, in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire we are working very hard on that. We already have a joint planning board, which meets to make sure that our planning policies are aligned and can support schemes such as this, with regional significance, in a way that enables all of our planning policies across the different local authorities to move towards the same end; but we will need HS2 and this proposal to support that too.

Q 28

Photo of Karen Lumley Karen Lumley Conservative, Redditch

In the midlands we have got huge capacity problems already. Can you just explain to us how you think HS2 will alleviate those in the east midlands?

Jane Urquart: Yes, I think HS2 will alleviate capacity issues and improve the connectivity with those other cities. Our rail speeds at the moment: getting, for example, from Nottingham to Birmingham takes about an hour and a quarter; that is a very long time for a comparatively short distance. Our current connectivity to Leeds: it takes about two hours, again. That is a very slow journey. You can get from London to Leeds in those sorts of times.

For us there are capacity issues. The midland main line is very busy and full and needs the upgrade work that is currently happening. The resignalling scheme is due to start in a couple of weeks at Nottingham, to improve the midland main line. All of those improvements need to happen anyway in the intervening time. For us it is not a case of “Either you increase the capacity on the classic network or you build high-speed rail.” Actually, you need to do both, because the capacity constraints are so great. HS2 will then enable capacity to be released on the midland main line to serve different markets for different kinds of travel that people want to do.

We would expect and want, when HS2 arrives, to have HS2 and regular, reliable, efficient services on the midland main line as well, to serve the intervening locations that will not be served by HS2. So it is incredibly important for us to get both the improvement in journey time and the increase in capacity.

Q 29

Photo of Frank Dobson Frank Dobson Labour, Holborn and St Pancras

Sarah, I think it might be useful for members of the Committee who are not familiar with the history if you were to spell out the opportunities that the original proposals for Euston, from HS2, held out for local people and businesses, and what has happened since they have revised the scheme and made it much less generous, shall we say.

Sarah Hayward: For a year, 18 months, HS2 was talking to us. We have a planning board to look at the redevelopment of Euston station and were talking in terms of a comprehensive redevelopment and bringing  the High Speed 2 and classic railway station together into one railway station and holistic redevelopment. That was very much supported by Network Rail and Transport for London. Although we had some significant problems with the demolition that was proposed, that station redevelopment offered an opportunity to lower the track slightly and recreate ground-level connectivity. For those not familiar with Euston station, it is just sat in the middle of two residential areas, creating a very divisive blight in that community. It is not a pretty station—it is not St Pancras; it is not King’s Cross—and it divides a community where there were once historical links.

The original proposal allowed ground-level comprehensive redevelopment—hundreds of homes and thousands of jobs to be created in the active frontage at the bottom, with retail space, cafés and what-have-you, and perhaps business space above, and homes on the site as well, so allowing a local opportunity to replace some of the homes that were lost. That would actually have increased housing capacity in the area—there is very high demand for housing of all tenure types in Camden, including our massive social housing waiting list—and provided a very good opportunity for us as a local authority, local communities and local businesses, although we retained concerns about some of the demolition.

High Speed 2 came to us completely out of the blue, with no prior discussion, in February, with what it calls option 8, which was effectively to bolt a lean-to on to the current shed that is Euston station. We have got all of the demolition, but none of the redevelopment of the existing Network Rail station and no lowering of the tracks. Any redevelopment will have to have a grade up to any over-station development. We are not aware that there is current funding for over-station development now over the existing station, but only for the High Speed 2 bit coming in along the side of the existing railway station. It is a massive lost opportunity.

We get all of the blight, all of the demolition and all of the lost jobs in the immediate vicinity, but none of the regenerative effects under the current proposal. I will have to urge a rethink. That is why I say that if the Government and HS2 insist on bringing it into Euston, take a temporary option of Old Oak Common and let us get Euston station right for High Speed 2 passengers, classic rail passengers and Camden’s communities.

Q 30

Photo of Caroline Spelman Caroline Spelman Conservative, Meriden

That is interesting. I did not quite understand your submission when you talked about an

“additional £400m increase in the cost of constructing a smaller HS2 station at Euston than the original comprehensive station”.

What was the cost of the original comprehensive station that you outlined, and why will it be £400 million more if the project is smaller?

Sarah Hayward: When High Speed 2 came to us, it said that it had massively underestimated both the costs and time it would take to have a comprehensive approach to Euston station. It had originally budgeted £1.2 billion for a comprehensive station, and is now budgeting £1.6 billion for the very slimmed-down scheme. The original scheme cost proposal was £1.2 billion for a  comprehensive station, but High Speed 2 had massively underestimated it. It said to us that that was its reason for coming back, with the smaller scheme estimated to be £400 million more than the comprehensive scheme. It just got its numbers extraordinarily wrong.

Q 31

Photo of Lilian Greenwood Lilian Greenwood Shadow Minister (Transport)

I have a final quick question for Jane. You commented on being relatively satisfied with Toton as an alternative to Nottingham city centre. Trying to speak from an east midlands perspective, do you think that Toton is a better alternative than either Derby city centre or East Midlands Parkway, which other people might suggest would be appropriate?

Jane Urquart: I think Toton is a better solution for the east midlands, and it is the best solution for the east midlands. There would be a difficulty with Derby particularly; again, connectivity from Nottingham would then be problematic. Both in terms of economic drivers and potential passenger numbers, Nottingham offers the greatest economic return, so Toton seems a reasonable option. At that location, there is considerable rail infrastructure already, because it is a very large sidings area, so for rail overall it seems to offer a better option than East Midlands Parkway, which is simply a parkway station on the midland main line. The level of rail infrastructure already there is nowhere near as great as at Toton, so the opportunities for good connectivity and the classic compatible issues for the whole of the east midlands—both Derby and Nottingham—are greater from Toton than they would be from East Midlands Parkway. Therefore, although in some ways East Midlands Parkway might, on the face of it, seem to be a good idea, I think that Toton is the best location, and with the right connectivity we can make it work extremely well for the east midlands and for Nottingham and Derby. It is that connectivity that will really make the difference.

Photo of Annette Brooke Annette Brooke Chair of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Party

If Members have no further questions for this panel, we will move on to questions to the next panel. I thank both witnesses from whom we have just heard. We will now hear oral evidence from Manchester City Council, Staffordshire County Council and Geoff Inskip on behalf of Centro and Passenger Transport Executive Group.