Chairman Pip's Railway Thoughts

You know what (know what?), I’m lovely…

Posted in High Speed, Infrastructure, London by Chairman Pip on 10 January 2012

So that’s that – after all the discourse, discord, back and forth shilly-shallying, here, there and everywhere arguing, finally the government have given their approval to the construction of the first phase of High Speed 2, with a firm commitment to build the rest of the HS2 network to give Manchester and Leeds access to high speed rail. I’ve spoken incessently about HS2 over the two years I’ve been doing this blog, so you should all be well aware of my support for building the line, and the reasons for why it should be built that I see. So I’m not going to discuss it again. But, because the decision has (finally) been made, comment should be passed. So I want to look at one particular aspect.

What masterpiece arose on the site of the old station? No masterpiece. A great hall of glass looks like a mini-version of London Airport. …I have heard the excuse for this disastrous and inhuman structure, which seems to ignore passengers, that British Railways originally intended to make it pay by adding multi-storey hotels and office blocks to the flat roof.
John Betjeman

I make no bones about the fact that I’m something of a romantic. Even though my interest in the railways predominently focuses on the future, I do still retain a favourable eye on the past. As you have often read, I retain a hankering after the idea of Broad Street, even going so far as to resurrect it, in my own mind at least. I’ve also spoken on occasion of the need for railway termini, especially when they are one end of a major intercity route, to have the grandeur that the gateway to a major city should have. St Pancras obviously has this. Now London will gain a second high speed terminal, when Euston becomes the southern terminus of HS2. You’ll probably be aware that it has been an ambition for some time to rebuild Euston, but for various reasons, since 2007 the project has stalled, stopped, re-started, swtiched and goodness knows what else, in no small part due to financing. Unlike the refurbishment of, for example, Kings Cross, in which the structure of the building has remained intact, the plan for Euston would have seen demolition of the existing building, built in the 1960s, to be completely replaced with a brand new station, which also would have seen the rebuilding of the Euston Arch. Now though, financing of the rebuilding of the station is no longer left to the perils of private investment, as it was before, but will instead form part of the total cost of building HS2. There is an opportunity therefore to design a brand new station that provides a fitting gateway to London from the north, that can complement the Gothic Revival of St Pancras and the Italianate style of Kings Cross, and ensure that it is built.

An artist's impression of Euston following its rebuild

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