Torygraph reporter & disgraced former BBC journalist Andrew Gilligan, famous for ‘sexing up’ his stories whilst accusing others of the same offence, is at it again. This time it’s a ridiculously ill-informed story about Euston station capacity & Hs2 that appeared in yesterday’s Telegraph. You can find it here.
In it, Gilligoon claims that “fewer conventional trains than now will be able to get in to Euston” because the number of non Hs2 platforms will be reduced and that “The number of approach tracks for trains entering the station will also fall by a third, from six to four”
In typically pompous fashion, Gilligoon says “HS2 documents seen by The Telegraph” intimating that he’s had access to something unseen by everyone else. The truth is, these documents are in the public domain. None of this stuff is secret, but then admitting that doesn’t pander to Gilligoon’s ego.
So, let’s unpick some of Gilligoons ridiculous claims.
“Fewer conventional trains will be able to get into Euston”. Really? Why?
What Gilligoon fails to mention is that one of the main capacity constraints at terminal stations is the turnaround time. This is the amount of time a train occupies a platform. At Euston, Intercity trains normally take around 35 minutes between arrival & departure. This is to allow them to be cleaned & the buffet to be restocked. Gilligoon fails to deal with the fact that these services will be transferred to Hs2 & replaced with services that need far shorter turnaround times – thus freeing up platform capacity & allowing more services to run. A good example of this is over at Charing Cross, which can cope with 29 trains per hour on just 6 platforms (& 4 approach lines).
Gilligoon goes on to quote Joe Rukin from Stophs2, who claims that “It is shameless not to mention that decommissioning two of the approach tracks will cut a third of the line and platform capacity into Euston”
What Rukin doesn’t say is that that there are only 4 tracks into Euston for the 54 miles from Hanslope Junction. It’s this that regulates traffic to & from Euston – not the final quarter mile! He also forgets Hs2 itself. Because Hs2 isn’t a mixed use railway carrying a variety of traffic it can run 18 trains (each way) per hour. This means that Euston gains capacity, it doesn’t lose it! Admittedly, what Rukin knows about railway operations can be written on the back of a stamp but even he can’t be this stupid.
In another attempt at scaremongering, Gilligoon claims that “The successful Overground local stopping service to Watford may also be at risk. It too could be curtailed short of central London, or diverted” Really? So what’s the evidence to back up this claim? There’s none. What a surprise. Something else that Gilligoon & Rukin neglect to mention are the plans to move the Euston – Tring stopping service onto Crossrail. This will both enhance the service and provide more capacity at Euston.
Meanwhile, back to platforms at Euston. How exactly will these be reduced? Euston currently has 18. What will it have after Hs2? Err, 22.
Here’s the information provided by Hs2 Ltd in the official press release:
“As well as the 11 high speed platforms provided by the new plan, at least 11 platforms will remain in the current station to serve the existing network”
In a further irony, Gilligoon inadvertently exposes the Pan Camden Alliances argument that Hs2 should terminate at Old Oak Common when he says that “Though HS2 will release space on the line itself, it will be of little value, since fewer conventional trains than now will be able to get in to Euston, the main destination for passengers.
He also bursts another anti Hs2 mob argument. They always focus on long distance services and the number of passengers using them. But, as Gilligoon points out “Two thirds of passengers using Euston are commuters”. And who stands to benefit most from the capacity released when long distance services move on to Hs2. Yep – commuters!
Another big hole in Gilligoon’s argument is his artificial distinction between conventional & Hs2 platforms at Euston. He uses it purely as a device to try & find fault. Will passengers care about which platform their train leaves from? Of course not. What will matter to them is how often & how speedy their trains are (oh, and if they can get a seat). The reality he refuses to deal with is that after Hs2 is built there will be a far better train service out of Euston than there is now, but admitting that would never do…
Poor Gilligoon. He’s tried another hatchet job on Hs2 & all he’s done is make a fool of himself and help demolish some of the anti Hs2 mobs arguments in the process!
UPDATE. (16th September).
Yesterday’s Hs2 Additional Provisions debate in Parliament has exposed another flaw in Gilligoon’s article and Rukin’s spin, although (what a surprise) Rukin neglects to mention this very important information in his report on the Stophs2 website.
Transport Minister Robert Goodwill revealed that of the two approach lines into Euston that will be taken out of service in 2018, line E and X. Line X will be reinstated after 3 years. Here’s the excerpt from Hansard;
This was clarified further when Goodwill replied to a question from The MP for Milton Keynes South, Iain Stewart;
This makes Rukin’s claims even more ridiculous – which is presumably why Rukin neglects to mention it! Rather than relying on the censored report of the debate on the StopHs2 website, you’re far better off reading the official transcript, which is here.