Sunday, 11 September 2011

Brent's detailed response on HS2 consultation

The Brent Executive will be asked to approve the following officers' response to the government's consultation on HS2 at their meeting on September 19th:

i. Brent Council supports, in principle, the development of high speed rail to help provide the basis for long-term and sustainable economic growth, whilst having the potential to deliver reductions in carbon emissions by achieving a modal shift from air travel. However, investment in high speed rail should not detract from funding for other rail infrastructure.

ii. Brent Council supports the proposals for the Y’ shaped network as one which delivers the greatest benefits for connecting the Midlands and the North to London.

iii. Brent Council welcomes the commitment to link HS2 to HS1. However, it is considered that the current proposal, to use existing track on the North London Line, could adversely impact upon existing suburban services, or upon future proposals to improve these. Any link should have dedicated infrastructure so as not to compromise capacity on the North London Line and/or the frequency or running speed of the HS operation.

The proposal for an interchange station at Old Oak Common is also supported in principle. However, this must maximise the potential for surface and rail connectivity with the surrounding area so that it can become a major transport hub for West London inthe same way that Stratford has developed as a major hub in East London.

There is an opportunity for interchange not only with Crossrail and the Great Western line, but also with the North and West London lines and with the existing West Coast Main Line and London Midland services at Willesden Junction, less than 800 metres away.

The Council believes that maximum benefit would be gained from linking Crossrail at Old Oak Common to the existing West Coast Main Line so that Crossrail trains could then run through onto this track and extend Crossrail northwards through Wembley Central station. This would support Brent’s largest growth area where substantial mixed use development is proposed, and make use of the track capacity anticipated to be generated by HS2.

Such a proposal would not only help maximise connectivity at Old Oak Common but would, more importantly, further relieve pressure from passengers arriving at Euston. The Council are of the view that the scope of HS2 should be widened to develop this proposal hand in hand with HS2.

Additionally the Council is concerned that the proposals do not contain details of arrangements for surface level connectivity to the hub station. The Council are of the view that the hub station should provide increased opportunity for residents in Brent, particularly those in the Harlesden and Kensal Green areas, to access employment opportunities in the region. This should be afforded by direct and suitable surface connectivity to the OOC hub station through Willesden Junction.

v The Council echoes concerns that have been expressed by residents in Brent about the potential effect on residential amenity of a tunnel for high speed trains located directly beneath their homes. Those concerns have not been addressed by information HS2 has provided during the consultation period about the impact
during construction and when HS2 is in operation.

It is Brent Council’s view that it should be possible for a tunnel to be constructed under the current West Coast Main Line track for a substantial part of the route from Old Oak Common to Euston, thus avoiding the possibility of such additional disturbance.

The Council is of the view that HS2 should undertake further work to explore the possibility of re-aligning the route (to the North Acton portal) beneath the WCML.

Additionally HS2 should ensure that construction and operational arrangements for any length of HS2 (or the HS2-HS1 link) in tunnel clearly demonstrate the absence of any impact on properties above the route so as to eliminate current concerns about amenity and blight.

The Council is also concerned about the potential impact of the proposed vent shaft on the Queens Park Station site at Salusbury Road. This is an important site which is a key part of the South Kilburn regeneration proposals, providing a mix of housing (around 200 homes) over lower ground commercial uses. The Council understands that the vent shafts are required approximately every 2 kilometres of tunnel, and that this is the distance between vents implemented on HS1. It is also understood that there is some flexibility over the precise siting of the vent shafts.

The Council is proceeding with the development of the Queens Park station site and therefore asks that the vent be located on an alternative site that is of less value to the South Kilburn redevelopment programme. For example, the vent shaftcould be located on land to the east of Queens Park station which is currently used as a builders yard/depot.

Brent Council also has an interest, as a member of the West London Waste Authority, in the potential impact of the route on the waste management site around Victoria Road in the London Borough of Hillingdon. Brent would wish to see a reconsideration of the route at this point so that it no longer impacts upon the operation of, or future operational proposals at, the Victoria Road waste transfer station.

Finally, and in the wider context, the Council is concerned about the development of HS2 proposals in the absence of plans to manage onward dispersal from Euston.Notwithstanding the positive impact of the OOC hub station on the numbers of passengers needing to use Euston, the Council is concerned that proposals for HS2 are developed and progressed in tandem with a package of measures to ensure that the transport network at, around and beyond, Euston can cope with the additional passenger numbers anticipated as a result of HS2 and regional growth.

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