Transport secretary axes section of HS2 rail link that threatened Camden markets
13:58 17 March 2014
PA Wire/Press Association Images
Transport secetary Patrick McLoughlin has announced a controversial section of the HS2 rail link which would have decimated Camden Town for a decade has been scrapped.
Mr McLoughlin has announced he will remove the link between High Speed 1 and High Speed 2 services, set to run over Camden Town and connect proposed HS2 rail services at Euston with Eurostar services at St Pancras International, from the HS2 Bill currently going through parliament.
He will look at other ways of linking HS2 with the continent.
Several iconic bridges would have been demolished under the plans for the HS1-HS2 link and 10 years of major construction involving hundreds of HGVs would likely have caused a significant rise in noise and air pollution.
Many businesses also feared construction would plunge large areas of Camden Town into a “decade of disruption”– with trading groups warning that 9,000 jobs would be lost and that the world-famous Camden markets could see stall-owners closing or leaving.
The transport secretary said he agreed with concerns about the proposed HS1-HS2 link raised in a report by HS2 chairman Sir David Higgins published this morning.
Mr McLoughlin also agreed with Sir David’s view, expressed in his report, that a more-expansive Euston station - the HS2 London terminus - should be considered.
Mr McLoughlin said he was asking HS2 Ltd and Network Rail to “develop more comprehensive proposals for the development of Euston”.
The Higgins’ report said a new station at Crewe in Cheshire should be completed by 2027, six years ahead of schedule.
It also recommended that phase two of HS2 - taking the line north from Birmingham in a Y-shape to the north west and north east of England, could be finished by the end of 2030 - three years earlier than planned.
Mr McLoughlin responded by saying he was asking HS2 Ltd and Network Rail to look at the phase two proposals.
Phase one of HS2 would see a line running from London through Tory heartlands to Birmingham and is due for completion in 2026.
The current whole-line cost, including contingencies, is £42.6 billion, with £7.5 billion for the trains.
In his report, Sir David said reducing the contingencies, which have pushed the total cost of the project up, would be “irresponsible”.
But he said cost cuts might be possible later and he laid down the gauntlet to politicians by saying the speedier the HS2 legislation, the better for cost reductions.
Sir David said that despite the potential benefits of HS2, he was “conscious of the price - financial, physical and emotional - that HS2 will demand from the country, from communities and from individuals”.
Legislation covering phase one is currently going through parliament.
Mr McLoughlin has said that the legislation will not be completed before the general election.
Speaking in Manchester today after launching his report, Sir David said he was hoping that the HS2 Bill would get Royal Assent in 2016 so that work on phase one could start, as planned, in 2017.
Leader of Camden Council Sarah Hayward said: “The report represents something of a pyrrhic victory for Camden with still no mention by Sir David or the Minister on the unfair and substandard mitigation and compensation for Camden and our residents.
“There’s no doubt that our campaigning, with our communities, has led to the recognition that HS2 will devastate Camden.
“We welcome the recognition that Government plans for both the Euston station and the Link were deeply flawed.
“While I am pleased to see that the Link will be removed from the Bill before Parliament as soon as possible, one has to question why it has taken over four years for this folly to be recognised by Government.
“I urge people who care about Camden not to treat this report as a victory, but simply as a staging post.
“We must continue to fight this scheme and for better outcomes for Camden if Government insists on pressing ahead following the developments today.”