March 7, 2014.




“Fragile” HS2 construction period rail services could completely collapse on just a single delay into Euston – 10 years of disruption.


Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin in the loop on likely chaos.


Documentation obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) reveal that train operating companies running Euston services have told the Department for Transport (DfT) and Network Rail that HS2 works planned for Euston will have a “catastrophic” impact on existing train services – with disruption for ten years.


HS2 Action Alliance lawyers have obtained copies of meeting notes and reports from talks between the train operators, the DfT and Network Rail, which state quite clearly that local commuter trains into London will suffer a capacity shortfall of 22%, that 40% of long-distance trains will be delayed, and trains will not be allowed to stay long enough at Euston platforms for proper servicing and cleaning.


Richard Houghton of HS2 Action Alliance, said: “We believe these FOI revelations are providing a very strong sense of what might be in the Major Projects Authority report into HS2 – commissioned by government, but blocked from publication by Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin earlier this year using laws usually reserved to maintain secrecy during wartime.


“We wonder how many more secrets are hidden, and are there to be uncovered by FOI requests or legal requirement.


“HS2 will, from the moment spades go in the ground, be very likely to needlessly create the very sort of chaos and capacity crisis it is proposed to avoid. It will put rail travel back 30 years.


“Euston would overnight be operating on a knife-edge, with absolutely no room for error – or for recovery if something goes wrong. Everybody is aware of the type of chaos that erupts if Heathrow, which runs at 99% capacity, suffers any sort of issue – whether incident or bad weather. Two things happen: instant backlog and overflowing terminal followed by cancellation of flights for which there are alternative means of transport – ie local and domestic flights.


“The difference is that Euston would be plunged into chaos for ten years solid; and while aircraft can use alternative airports, trains cannot use alternative London terminals.”


In summary: the impact of HS2 on existing services into Euston:


The documentation eventually released to HS2 Action Alliance confirms the Department for Transport and Network Rail are well aware that the works planned at Euston to construct HS2 will have a catastrophic impact on train services on the existing route:


  • Services will be affected for at least ten years, with reductions in peak hour services starting in December 2016 – there will be a capacity shortfall of 22% in suburban services to major commuter stations such as Harrow and Wealdstone, Watford, Hemel Hempstead and Berkhamsted.
  • The number of platforms will be permanently reduced from 18 to 13, with the number of approach tracks reduced from 6 to 4.
  • Virgin services will have to leave Euston as soon as 25 minutes after arrival, leaving little time for servicing and cleaning, or recovery after delay. All long distance passengers will have to stand on the concourse until just before departure time – and there will be chaos when inbound trains are late.
  • There are likely to be numerous weekend closures, with extended closures at holiday periods.
  • Network Rail’s modelling suggests that less than 60% of long distance services will arrive on time.
  • Minutes of meetings show that the train operating companies including Virgin are extremely angry about these plans and even the DfT isn’t happy.
  • ·         Construction could result in decline in Birmingham/Manchester trains from 3 to 2 an hour.


Key points from the documents are shown below, with explanations and comments underlined in text.


Original documents are available, and will be provided on request to avoid mailbox clutter.




Further information:


Iain Macauley

07788 978800


John Read

07774 476391


Main points:


Italicised type: direct lift from documentation obtained under FOI.

Underlined in text: explanation and comment from HS2AA.


  1. 1.     Document Name 09-10-02 HS2 Euston works NR update to DfT 260413.pdf


Document Title Euston HS2 rail enabling works-briefing to DFT 26 April 2013


This is a briefing by Network Rail to the Department for Transport on the impacts of proposed construction works at Euston. It confirms that existing services will be heavily and negatively impacted from December 2016. It also raises the issue that Network Rail need to take on a lot of work to accommodate HS2 but are not being paid for it.


The main construction works at Euston are being planned by HS2 Ltd for the 2017-2026 period……Prior to this time approx 1 year of major enabling works is envisaged, to clear NR infrastructure off the future HS2 site”          meaning services to and from Euston will be affected from December 2016, for ten years


Upon completion of these enabling works Euston would have 13 platforms (all 11-car Pendolino) and 4 approach tracks”.     Euston currently has 18 platforms and 6 approach tracks


“HS2-related timetable change would need to be implemented around December 2016 to avoid delaying the main HS2 works


“At least 2 high peak hour trains likely to need to be removed (currently assumed by HS2 Ltd as London Midland’s peak only Watford Junction to Euston shuttles, but may be more than this.” Mean services in the peak hour will have to be permanently reduced by at least 2 trains from December 2016


Turnaround times will need to be reduced through stepping-up stock and re-diagrammingVirgin trains today typically leave Euston 40/50 minutes after arrival, allowing time for servicing and cleaning, and for passengers to start getting on c20 minutes before departure. This also allows time for recovery if the arrival is late. To avoid major reductions to frequency, HS2 want to cut this time to c25 minutes; even if everything is going well, this means passengers will have to wait on the concourse until just before departure – if inbound trains are late, this will be quite chaotic – and this will go on for 10 years


“WCML performance overall potentially more fragile, due to the constrained capacity in the Euston areameaning impacts will be across the WCML not just Euston


“Implementing HS2 is likely to require a peak train service reduction from around December 2016. No evidence that this is being seriously planned anywhere at present.”  Confirms date disruption would start from and fact HS2 Ltd haven’t managed to plan it.


Clearing the HS2 site for main construction start in January 2017 requires an urgent funding mechanism for these enabling works, and industry agreement re the associated timetable change. Network Rail need to be compensated otherwise higher fares or lower service elsewhere.



  1. 2.     Document Name: 11-01-03 HS2 Euston works update to DfT 120613


Document Title: Euston HS2 enabling works-analysis of capacity impact. 13 June 2013


This is a briefing by Network Rail to the Department for Transport on the current thinking of the impacts of HS2 on Euston. It confirms that HS2 Ltd are unable to ensure the minimum level of service in Euston specified by Network Rail and show the cuts to train services which will result to that station.


Prior to 2012, HS2 Ltd team working on Euston impacts assumed running services to the off peak level achieved in 2010 not 2012 and ignored the fact that Pendelino trains had been extended to 11 cars. They had done this because the Department for Transport had not required HS2 Ltd to maintain current levels of service- shows total lack of joined up thinking.


“It is likely that there will also be significant weekend / bank holiday disruption –the full extent of this is currently undefined.           There are likely to be numerous weekend closures, with extended closures over bank holiday periods eg Christmas and Easter


  2025 peak train service (0800-0859 arrivals)
  Network Rail issued requirement Achieved in HS2 work Reduction
Long distance (fast lines)




Outer suburban (fast lines)



Outer suburban (slow lines)





DfT and Network Rail forecast continued strong growth in passenger numbers – but acknowledge that peak services will have to be reduced, with a 22% reduction in slow line commuter capacity to stations like Harrow and Wealdstone, Watford, Hemel Hempstead and Berkhamsted


NR does have concerns, not specifically quantified, regarding performance robustness, and the ability to recover from perturbation.  NR also has concerns regarding how pedestrian flows in the station will be managed with the revised platform arrangement”


“Whilst spare capacity might exist off-peak, this needs to be balanced against recovery from perturbations. It is not therefore prudent to assume any increase relative to today (including the December 2013 changes)”.


“The Stafford area works assume extra WCML long distance paths to London in CP5. There is a significant risk that this is inconsistent with the HS2 works at Euston.”   Network Rail are increasing capacity of the route in the Stafford area, and claimed this would allow two more trains an hour to and from Euston


“Based purely on train numbers there is an indicative shortfall of 2 peak trains by 2018 and 4 peak trains by 2023” ie when construction finishes they are still two trains short.


  1. 3.     140217 FOI requests – Annex C2: Information released


This document is a series of excerpts from minutes and presentations, on the basis the remainder of each minute or presentation is classified.


Network Rail Presentation to Department for Transport


  • Loss of platforms, loss of Lines X and E and reduced platform dwell times would logically mean that less trains can use the station than today.


  •  _This could result in service frequency reductions – London to Birmingham and/or London to Manchester services reduce from 3 to 2 per hour.


  •  _Average PPM would be likely to worsen by between 4 and 8%, but bad days would be significantly worse.


  •  _Reduced platform dwell time would mean that ability to manage 11-car and 9-car trains on appropriate diagrams is lost.


  •  _Recovery from disruption would be severely compromised, as there would be insufficient platforms to accommodate displaced trains.


Shows that there will be a signifincant reduction in the frequency of services and increase in delays


HS2 impacts on Euston during construction – XX (DfT) speaking note (3 December)



  • HS2 Ltd modelling shows PPM reduction around 4% compared to current performance, without mitigations
  • • _PPM reduction around 1% with mitigations, but these mitigations are of concern to Network Rail and industry
  • • _At 4% PPM reduction, estimated compensation costs to Virgin alone of up to £xx over 10 years
  • • _Service recovery, already comparatively poor on WCML services, will also be made more difficult as resilience is reduced


Shows even  Department for Transport know this is an issue in December 2013 setting out problems for West Coast Main Line


Notes from HS2 TOC stakeholder summit 6 November 2013


TOCs sceptical about HS2 claim that there had been consultation already


General TOC consensus that the HS2 proposals for the train working and timetable of the existing services are unworkable as set out and that “something” would have to give to make things work and that the “something” may come down to a choice between accepting a poorer PPM than exists today or taking trains out if there is no flex in any other aspect of the scheme.

 _TOCs concerned about silence on the effect on existing services and demand – this will be a constraint and there are opportunity costs of being unable to enhance the timetable in 2016 as planned

 _TOC view that HS2 proposals based on the modelled effects for just 2 hours are of no practical use.

General TOC view that a reduction of the TT is inevitable.

First set of mitigations assumed by HS2 included assuming right time departures, full complement of train crew and reduced turnaround times for all operators and the second included a specific re-write of the WCML timetable (see slides): none of the TOCs thought these were realistic or achievable despite MH stating that these are not timetable changes , merely stepping up of rolling stock.

 _Both Virgin and London Midland sceptical of rolling stock based assumptions which imply that all rolling stock of a particular operator is homogeneous and Virgin concerned at the assumption that the resolution of the 9-11 coach Pendolino issue is not a show stopper. Virgin say that significant costs are attached to this.

 _Virgin flagged up large potential costs – potentially of £xx/year over 10 years = £xx

 _Sleepers a likely problem based on assumption that two existing services can use 1 platform in sequence , rather than 2 separately as now

Train Operating Companies in November 2013 flagging up to the Department for Transport that their plans are unworkable and choice will be to accept a much worse service or reduce the number of trains. Train Operating Companies seriously unhappy at HS2 Ltd’s forecasting.


“To meet the programme to deliver the Phase 1 train service by the end of 2026, the reduction in platforms and approach tracks is assumed to occur by the end of 2016, when the Euston enabling works commences.”

“However during the construction period – potentially 10 years between 2016 and 2026 – passenger demand into Euston is forecast to increase; moreover there is a Ministerial commitment through the HLOS process to increase capacity into Euston in the period up to 2019.”

“…  some preliminary performance analysis has suggested that there will be an associated deterioration in service performance.”


Network Rail Presentation: Euston HS2 works NR, HS2 Ltd, DfT regular meeting (31 October 2013, Relevant Extract, slide 4):


Performance /capacity to 2026 …”Several senior Network Rail, TOC and DfT individuals have expressed major concerns re viability”


Network Rail, Train Operating Companies and the Department for Transport are worried about HS2 Ltd’s plans for Euston in October 2013.



High Speed Two – Euston Station Meeting with Rail Industry

6th November 2013, Department for Transport


4.7 Train operators emphasised their strong concern at the potential performance impact and whether they would be able to operate the existing timetable with less tracks and platforms. It was noted that currently the TOCs were not meeting the PPM for the current timetable, that they were required to improve their PPM during the construction period and that passenger demand at Euston was also forecast to increase. PPM is “Passenger Performance Measure”, a standard industry measure for punctuality


Email from DfT to Transport Scotland (29 November): HS2 – Euston Station meeting

The layover times for the Sleeper service (from HS2) are:

From Dec ’15 the following would need to occur:

1M11 – Glasgow & Edinburgh arr 06:47 (as per today) currently departs 08:45 empty, would need to depart before 07:30 – exact timing would need to be confirmed

1Mi16 – Inverness arr 07:47 (as per today) currently departs 09:28 empty, would need to depart empty at 08:27

Both trains would use Platform 1 at Euston.

At present, sleeping car passengers from Edinburgh and Glasgow can stay on the train until 0800. In order to get the empty train out of the station by 0730, they would need to get off by 0715 at the latest


140217FOI requests – Annex C2 table 2 (information)

Presentation to DfT (18th November)

  • Loss of platforms, loss of Lines X and E and reduced platform dwell times would logically mean that less trains can use the station than today.


  • This could result in service frequency reductions – London to Birmingham and/or London to Manchester services reduce from 3 to 2 per hour.                 This is much more serious that the potential service reductions referred elsewhere


  • Average PPM would be likely to worsen by between 4 and 8%, but bad days would be significantly worse.


  1. 4.     Notes from HS2 TOC stakeholder summit 6 November

“General TOC consensus that the HS2 proposals for the train working and timetable of the existing services are unworkable as set out”

“General TOC view that a reduction of the TT is inevitable”.

HS2 “Generally speaking from 2017 onwards works don’t have a catastrophic (!!!) effect on existing services.” (Exclanation marks are in the original)

HS2 Mitigations Assumptions Turnround 25 mins Virgin     see comments on turnrounds on first page

DfT Rail Board – 12 June 2013

HS2 / Existing Rail Network Interfaces

“These works, as currently set out by HS2 Ltd, look likely to so reduce the peak capacity from December 2015 that we may be unable to deliver the level of passenger capacity required by the 2012 HLOS and possibly unable to meet current peak demand reliably. The current HS2 Ltd proposal is to reduce Euston from 18 to 13 platforms and from six to four approach tracks. This translates into capacity for at least one less train per hour in the peak versus today, making no allowance for growth through additional train paths, although train lengthening would still be possible. The plan relies on changed and much more intensive platform and track usage and cuts into reliability margins.”               This is from the senior committee dealing with the rail industry at the Department for Transport


Document Name H01-130709 HS2 Euston works NR update 090713.pdf

Document Title Euston HS2 rail enabling works-update to DFT 9 July 2013


This is an update to the Department for Transport from Network Rail. Network Rail reviewed the implications of HS2 Ltd’s proposed timetable, based on 2011 passenger loading data and Network Rail demand forecasts to 2026.


HS2 will have significant impact on long distance services from Euston, reducing turnaround times and operational flexibility in the Euston area.


Network Rail/HS2 Ltd agreed that it would not be possible to maintain current levels of service during this period and it was agreed a reduction in 10% timeliness could occur.


TRAIL Modelling –Summary

TRAIL is a programme used by network rail for modelling the impact of infrastructure and timetable changes on punctuality

This is an initial evaluation prior to the availability of a fully developed pattern of services.

•% of Services Arrived On time is 58.25%, a drop of 8.02%.

•% of Services Arrived within 10 minutes: 82.71%, a drop of 7.16%.

•% of cancelled service is 6.1%, an increase of 3.5%.


This is Network Rail’s modelling of the impact of the HS2 works at Euston on the pounctuality of West Coast main Line services – less than 60% of trains arriving on time

This contrasts with a much lower drop in performance modelled by HS2 Ltd (see H04 -130829 HS2 – Euston Enabling Work V2-0) – but HS2 Ltd assume Virgin trains can be turned round if necessary in 10 minutes, London Midland trains in 5 minutes

Document also makes clear the service problems will not be confined to Euston


May need to consider performance mitigations to the route as a whole, not just at Euston but also infrastructure or non-infrastructure issues elsewhere.


Title H05-130829 Enabling Works NR DFT HS2 Ltd Train Service Minutes

Title Euston HS2 Enabling Works 2016 WCML Timetable Minutes

What Is It?

Minutes of a meeting convened by Network Rail with representatives from HS2 Ltd and the Department for Transport. 29 August 2013

Train service capacity during HS2 construction works is agreed as a key concern

It was agreed that the lack of a rail industry planning process for a timetable change which is required as early as December 2015 is a key concern

Concerns were expressed by DfT (XX) that HS2 Ltd’s timetable proposals may have included insufficient trains to accommodate growth to 2026.

It was agreed that the performance impact on WCML operations of the Euston Enabling works would be significant from 2016 to 2026

It was agreed that pedflows within the station and to/from LUL had potential to be a driver of overall capacity and could import delays to the train service


  1. 5.     H31-131106  HS2 proposals for Euston.pdf

Document Name H31-131106 Proposals for Euston Station 6 November 2013

HS2’s proposals for how construction will be sequenced at Euston


  • Spatial constraints require removal of some existing approach tracks and platforms as well as additional land to the west  (Slide 2)
  • Slide 17 summarises in one slide adverse changes to Euston post HS2


  1. 6.     Document Name: H32-131106 High Speed Two: Euston during construction.pdf

Document Title : High Speed Two: Euston during construction 6 November 2013

  • HS2’s proposals on how to ensure reliable train services are maintained at Euston during construction of HS2 and reduction in platforms.
  1. 7.     H40-131129 TOC Summit 2-HS2 Presentation

Presentation by HS2 Ltd for train operators dated 29 November 2013 titled

High Speed 2: Euston Resilience during construction (2)

  • Confirms work will begin before December 2015, ie prior to passage of Hybrid Bill and earlier than we thought previously (Slide 2)
  • December 2015-Summer 2016 platforms 9 and 10 taken out of service, due to other works required Euston will operate on 14 platforms (currently 18) (Slide 3)
  • Summer 16-Christmas 16 platforms 16,17,18 taken out of service plus one approach track, reducing from 6 to 5 (Slide 6)
  • Christmas 16-April 17 approach tracks reduced from 5 to 4 and confirmation that 13 platforms remain in service. (Slide 8)