Old Oak Common 'Logical Place' For Rail Hub

High speed rail plans announced

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Old Oak Common it to become a major rail hub as part of the Government's plans for a new high-speed rail network.

In an announcement on Thursday (March 11), Transport Secretary Lord Adonis said that, subject to a consultation, the London terminus for the new high-speed line would be Euston and there would be an interchange station with Crossrail at Old Oak Common, just north of Wormwood Scrubs.

High Speed 2 (HS2), the company tasked with looking into the options for the new high speed rail service, has recommended a route for a new line between London and Birmingham with a future extension to northern England and Scotland later on.

Outlining how the line would affect the local area, the Department for Transport's report states: “HS2 Ltd's recommended route for its proposed High Speed Two line would begin at a rebuilt and expanded Euston Station and proceed in tunnel beneath north west London to surface at a new Crossrail Interchange station located at Old Oak Common (an existing railway facility in West London close to Willesden Junction). This would provide travellers with direct connections to Crossrail, Heathrow Express and the Great Western Mainline.”

The report indicates there could be major excavation work carried out at Old Oak Common: “From a construction perspective, HS2 Ltd advise that Old Oak Common is the only site in West London suitable for launching the tunnel boring machines needed to create the tunnels needed for High Speed Two to reach Euston.”

There is also a suggestion that the wider Old Oak Common area will be developed at the same time: “Subect to consultation, further work will be required by HS2 Ltd. in conjunction with Transport for London, the relevant London boroughs, Network Rail and other stakeholders to develop an overall plan for the Old Oak Common area which will maximise the benefits for passengers and take full advantage of the wider development potential of the site and surrounding areas.”

Lord Adonis says the rail project will create 10,000 jobs and the DfT report stresses the regeneration potential at Old Oak Common - a 'brownfield site'. However, local people expressed serious concerns two years ago when it emerged that the Council wanted to build a substantial new development to the north of Wormwood Scrubs. Nature-lovers in particular were concerned about the possible impact on the nearby nature reserve of thousands of new homes, shops and businesses.

Thursday's announcement was welcomed by both Hammersmith and Fulham Council and Shepherd's Bush MP Andy Slaughter: “Old Oak is the logical place to put the London Interchange for High Speed 2, allowing access to Heathrow, Crossrail and the Great Western Railway. I have long campaigned for a Crossrail station here and the prospect of a multi-platform national rail centre is great news for my constituents and the whole of London and the UK. Of course I will need assurances that the construction and development of High Speed Rail will not disrupt the lives of people living in West London or the delicate ecology around Wormwood Scrubs,” said Slaughter.

Cllr Mark Loveday, H&F Cabinet Member for Strategy, said the council had been lobbying for the station for two years: “Old Oak Common is unrivalled as a site for west London’s High Speed 2 interchange. The site is perfectly placed to connect the rest of the country with Heathrow and will deliver tens of thousands of new jobs and homes to one of the most deprived communities in the country,” he said.

Eventually, it is hoped that HS2 will speed commuters from London, via Birmingham and Manchester, to Glasgow in just over two hours. Journey times from the Old Oak hub to Heathrow will be around 11 minutes.

The public will be consulted on the proposed route, with work unlikely to start until 2017 at the earliest.

11 March 2010