TfL - past and future (Supplementary) [14]

Session date: 
June 8, 2016
Question By: 
Andrew Dismore
Organisation: 
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London) & Mike Brown MVO (Commissioner, Transport for London)

Question

Andrew Dismore AM:  Thank you, Chairman.  My question is to the Mayor.  I wanted to ask you about

High Speed 2 (HS2), Mr Mayor.  Firstly, could I commend to you - and, indeed, everybody else - the article by Simon Jenkins in yesterday’s The Guardian that sets out the sorry history of the HS2 scheme?

 

I believe you recently met HS2 Chairman Sir David Higgins.  You previously said you would ensure the company “does the right thing by Camden”, presumably including your proposal that the line terminates initially at

Old Oak Common.  What was Mr Higgins’ response?

Supplementary To: 

Answer

Answer for TfL - past and future (Supplementary) [14]

Answer for TfL - past and future (Supplementary) [14]

Answered By: 
Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London) & Mike Brown MVO (Commissioner, Transport for London)

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Can I thank you, Assembly Member Dismore, for your campaigning on this issue?  You and the Council and the two Members of Parliament (MPs) have been vociferous in expressing and articulating the unhappiness of residents and businesses around Euston affected by the current plans for HS2 at Euston.  I was pleased that Mr Higgins understood your concerns and the concerns of your residents and businesses.

 

The solution that I talked about recently was temporarily having Old Oak Common as a terminus whilst works around Euston can be done to bring it up to the standard that you expect for Euston as a station, taking into account the concerns around blighting and the concerns that the residents and the businesses have.

 

Mr Higgins reassured us.  The Commissioner and I met him together and Deputy Mayor Valerie Shawcross  was with us as well.  He reassured us that he is working closely with Camden Council to make sure a solution is found that works for everyone.  You may want to ask the Commissioner what he thinks about this, but I was reassured that HS2 seemed to understand that at the moment the plans are not fit for purpose for you and your constituents and that they need to amend their plans to make them fit for purpose.

 

Andrew Dismore AM:  Thank you for that.  I will come back to the issue of Old Oak Common if there is time.

 

One of the major criticisms of HS2 is its appalling approach to public consultation.  I hear what you say about the Council, but the deal with the Council is primarily about process rather than substance.  One of the problems with HS2 is that it treats local people like mushrooms rather than genuinely engaging with them.  The most recent example was on 5 May 2016, a day probably to bury bad news, when it announced that it was challenging the right of 411 people and groups to petition the House of Lords against the HS2 Bill, including residents’ representative groups, all the MPs, me as an Assembly Member, ward councillors and even individual residents.  The Lords are currently holding hearings into these challenges mounted by HS2.

 

I wondered if you would raise this with Mr Higgins because it seems to me - and I would hope you would agree with this - that this HS2 bullying is profoundly undemocratic towards the people of Camden and, indeed, more widely along the line.

 

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  I also believe that HS2 needs to improve its community engagement.  I have asked the Commissioner and the officials at TfL to work with Camden and HS2 to deliver a better approach.  The team at City Hall will be working with TfL to make sure we can try to improve on that.  It is not just the process of consultation; it is really important to have community engagement.  If you have ideas for how it can do things better, please let me know and let Val Shawcross [Valerie Shawcross CBE] know, who will make sure that HS2 is under no illusions as to what our expectations are in relation to community engagement.

 

Andrew Dismore AM:  That is very important.  On Leading Britain’s Conversation (LBC) on 18 May 2016, you had a discussion with one of the local residents and agreed to visit Euston to meet and hear from residents, local businesses and their local representatives and for you to see for yourself the devastation that HS2 will cause as things presently stand.

 

Could you please expedite that?  With the Lords Bill Committee now underway, this is becoming quite urgent.

 

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Chairman, can I say through you?  Maybe after this, if Assembly Member Dismore liaises with my office, we will arrange a time to go sooner rather than later.  I hear you loud and clear.

 

Andrew Dismore AM:  That is great.  The last point: your predecessor, Boris Johnson MP, said he would insist that funding for Crossrail 2 was part of the HS2 link because, without it, if HS2 were to terminate at Camden, people would be absolutely stranded.  Indeed, I see that one of the arguments put forward by HS2 is that it cannot terminate at Old Oak Common because Crossrail 1 would not be able to cope.  If Crossrail 1 cannot cope, the Northern line definitely cannot because it is overcrowded already.  The Crossrail 2 link to HS2, if it does eventually come to Euston, is vitally important.  Could you confirm whether in fact this is going to be the case?

 

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Yes.  That is one of the things we discussed with Mr Higgins and we discussed also the impact of Crossrail 2 bearing in mind that the transport hub does not currently work.  When you get to ask the Commissioner the question you want to ask, you may want to ask the Commissioner about the conversations they have had about making sure there is proper co-ordination in relation to the links between HS2, Crossrail 2, the other public transport that is currently there and - you are right - Crossrail 1 as well because we have discussed that.  It is a concern that we have.

 

Andrew Dismore AM:  Perhaps I could put that to Mr Brown.  The original plan for Crossrail 2 would have meant even more devastation around Euston, particularly on the Somers Town side, to build the Crossrail 2 terminus station there rather than where it actually belongs, which is within the existing classic Euston Station.  Perhaps you can say where you have got to in your discussions with Crossrail about that.

 

Mike Brown MVO (Commissioner, Transport for London):  Yes, it looks much more positive now.  The detail of Crossrail 2 plan will, again, emerge in the next few months; it needs to if we are going to get on a trajectory for progressing to the Hybrid Bill’s second stage reading in this Parliament and so we have to get this sorted out.

 

At Euston specifically, yes, the station is now much more integrated into the main station, as it should be.  That is also good for potentially disruptive intervention for the number of homes and houses affected within the borough and so we are working closely with Councillor Sarah Hayward [Leader, Camden Council] and the London Borough of Camden on those issues.  It does look like a much better scheme.

 

As the Mayor rightly said, we emphasised with David Higgins and his colleague the other day the imperative of having this as one scheme for Euston to have the proper level of interchange required because it is bad enough at the moment never mind what it would be with two new lean‑to stations on the side of the existing one, which is not the right solution.

 

Andrew Dismore AM:  Do you think Crossrail 1 could cope with a terminus at Old Oak Common?

 

Mike Brown MVO (Commissioner, Transport for London):  There are two answers to that.  In the short term, from the first phase of HS2 opening from about 2026 to 2030, there probably is scope or the ability to carry some of the traffic.  Clearly, we are both concerned.  We are all concerned about ensuring that Crossrail 1 does not end up hugely overcrowded before it even gets to Paddington, which is the reason why that short window in the timeline would be available if we had to get to that point.

 

However, it is important really to get the overall scheme recognised and co‑ordinated properly with the right level of engagement with local residents, as you rightly said.  I was very encouraged, as the Mayor was, with the first meeting we had with the Chair of HS2 the other day that I will certainly follow up with the Chief Executive and there will be more meetings in due course.