The Anonymous Widower

Government “not pursuing” HS1-HS2 Rail Link

This is the title of an article on Global Rail News.

The report entitled High Speed Two: East and West The next steps to Crewe and beyond considers it is just too difficult.

Section twelve of the report entitled Connecting to High Speed 1, goes into details.

They suggest an enhanced pedestrian link and say this for rail.

For rail, we considered a range of direct link options. It was, however, not possible to identify a viable rail option capable of meeting the strategic aspirations whilst successfully addressing stakeholder concerns. This was because the options were complex and expensive to construct and would have delivered infrequent, less attractive train services for HS2 passenger travelling to European destinations. As a result we do not intend to take forward proposals for a direct rail between HS2 and HS1 or include active or passive provision to support the construction of such a link in the future.

In my view, the only direct rail link possible, without demolishing half of Camden, would be a totally tunnelled double-tracked route from a few miles north of Euston to somewhere like Barking to connect with the Channel Tunnel Rail Link. It could also be used to get freight trains between the West Coast Main Line and the Channel Tunnel and the ports in the South East.

But it would have a cost of almost the level of the tunnels for Crossrail or Crossrail 2. Have we got a spare ten billion pounds?

The Pedestrian Link

From drawings of Euston station after HS2 is opened, it would appear that the HS2 platforms are on the western side of the station.

Does this make the pedestrian link difficult?

The Crossrail Alternative

When HS2 opens in2026, it will stop at Old Oak Common station, where it will interface with a myriad of lines including Crossrail.

Crossrail at present only goes as far as Abbey Wood, but the route is safeguarded to Gravesend. As I showed in Crossrail Extension To Gravesend, extending Crossrail to Ebbsfleet International station, would not be a multi-billion pound project.

As the HS2 station at Old Oak Common is not finalised yet, I do hope when it is, that it is simple interchange between HS2 and Crossrail.

With a simple interchange between Crossrail and HS1, the link between HS1 and HS2 via Crossrail would not be as simple as a direct link, but it could have other advantages, when you look at the using Crossrail as a preferred link.

Convenience For Passengers

If Crossrail served Ebbsfleet International, this would mean that passengers from many more places would have a direct or one-change link to Continental services.

But the biggest winners would be those wanting to go between Heathrow and the Continent. What the direct frequency would be between  Heathrow and Ebbsfleet International would be up to the planners, but I can’t expect there would be less than four trains per hour

I live close to Dalston Junction and might prefer to use Crossrail from Whitechapel to Ebbsfleet, at certain times of the day, when my routes to St. Pancras are extremely busy!

I believe that Crossrail should go be exected to Ebbsfleet International as soon as is feasible!

St. Pancras Is Too Small

I believe that in a few years time, London to Paris and London to Brussels will be turn-up-and-go services.

Given too, that plans exist for direct services to Amsterdam/Rotterdam, Marseilles and Cologne, it strikes me that a four-platform St. Pancras station will be too small in perhaps ten years.

Also, what would happen if say easyRail or RyanRail wanted to run low-cost services to Europe, which is or will be allowed by European Union competition rules?

With Crossrail linked to Ebbsfleet International, where there is plenty of space for more platforms, it would be possible that services could terminate there and use Crossrail to and from Central London.

Customs And Immigration

Once Crossrail is a feasible route to Continental services and the travel statistics start to be reliable, it might be possible so sort out our archaic customs and immigration arrangements.

When I travel between say Brussels and Frankfurt, I just have to have a valid ticket, but how long before I need to show my passport and have my baggage scanned on a journey like this?

Incidentally, if you travel on some long-distance trains in Spain, your baggage is scanned.

I think that with all the problems of terrorism and illegal immigration, that cross-border trains within the Schengen area, will come under tighter security rules in the near future.

Will  regulations like this mean, when I am travelling from say Cologne to London, that I would undergo the same checks as another passenger going from Cologne to Brussels?

I certainly hope so!

Modern Ticketing

Surely with e-passports and contactless bank cards, we should be able to do something a lot better than exists today.

Imagine turning up at any major station on either side of the Channel, where you can board a train for the other side.

You put your e-passport on the turn-up-and-go terminal, which checks you against the passport. You just indicate on a screen where you want to go, choose your train and, pay for it and then walk through to the waiting area.

If you have already bought your ticket, the terminal would recognise you and after checking the bar code on your ticket or your bank card, you would also be let through.

The only thing to do before boarding, who be the personal and baggage scan.

All the technology to create a ticketing system like this is available today.

On the other hand, I would hate to see a system that was so slow, that you had to spend an hour in a station before travelling.

Thoughts On The Camden HS1-HS2 Link

After writing the previous sections and reading this section on Wikipedia about the link, I had the following thoughts.

  • Trains between the Continent and HS2 would not stop in Central London. This might cause logistical problems for groups of travellers.
  • To call at St. Pancras, trains would need to reverse at St. Pancras. Would there be enough platforms?
  • Would Customs and Immigration services have to be provided at every HS2 station?

I suspect others have had the same and other thoughts and have thus decided that a pedestrian route is the best way to change between Euston and St. Pancras.

Journey Times

I wouldn’t use Ebbsfleet if the total journey time was a lot longer.

The following assumptions and facts can be considered.

  • Ticketing, boarding or disembarking at St. Pancras or Ebbsfleet shouldn’t take different times.
  • From Eurostar’s timetable St. Pancras to Ebbsfleet takes twenty minutes.
  • From Eurostar’s timetable St. Pancras to Paris by the fastest train takes two hours sixteen minutes.
  • From Eurostar’s timetable Ebbsfleet to Paris by the fastest train takes two hours five minutes.
  • From Crossrail’s predictions, Old Oak Common to Abbey Wood will take thirty two minutes.
  • I estimate that Abbey Wood to Ebbsfleet International would take perhaps fifteen minutes.
  • I estimate that Old Oak Common to |St. Pancras via a direct HS1-HS2 link would take perhaps fifteen minutes or a bit more, if the train had to reverse at St. Pancras.

This would give the following estimated times.

  • Old Oak Common to Paris via St. Pancras would take two hours thirty-one minutes.
  • Old Oak Common to Paris via Crossrail would take two hours fifty-two minutes.

So not building a direct link means that passengers using HS2 to get to Paris take another twenty-one minutes.

On the other hand, how many would book separate trains with a generous connection time and whilst crossing central London would have a relaxing meal?


I think that to save twenty-one minutes in a journey from HS2 to Paris, but completely rebuild the lines North of Euston and St. Pancras is a trade-off not worth making.



December 3, 2015 - Posted by | Travel | , , ,

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