Old Oak Common Terminus Needs Rethink Says MP

Andy Slaughter says Hammersmith Bridge should get cash saved from HS2

The single access road to Old Oak Common station creates issues with resilience. Picture: HS2

October 6, 2023

Hammersmith’s MP has responded to a letter from the Minister of Transport about cutting of investment in HS2 in which it is claimed that the move ‘will benefit every single region’ of our country with £36 billion freed up.

Andy Slaughter replied to Mark Harper with a detailed list of potential problems with terminating the high speed line at Old Oak Common station and suggesting that one project that the money saved could go to is the completion of the Hammersmith Bridge repair.

The government’s revised plan for HS2 sees it running only between Birmingham and London with the terminus at Old Oak Common for what could be the first decade of its operation. Even then, the new proposal for Euston Station would see a reduced number of platforms effectively ruling out a later expansion of the line to cities such as Manchester and Leeds.

Mr Slaughter said in his letter, sent on Friday (6 October), “you wrote that projects funded from scrapping the completion of HS2 ‘will benefit every single region’ of our country, but I searched in vain through your list of projects to see what benefit there is for London.”

He adds that the termination of the line at Old Oak Common, which is expected to happen some time early next decade, presents a series of logistical difficulties with access to the new station not having been well thought out as it originally wasn’t expected to be the final stop.

He says, “There is no motor vehicle access from the east, only a belated plan for a long and unwelcoming cycle and footpath from Scrubs Lane. There are no easy local connections to Overground, tube or bus. The one narrow access road from Old Oak Common Lane is several hundred metres from the station entrance. In the event of fire or terrorist incident, this entrance would be the only route in and out of the station site, which shows a poor attitude to resilience.”

He also raises concerns about disabled passengers needing to transfer from HS2 to the Elizabeth Line and the potential for overcrowding on the existing service.

He claims that there has been little attempt by HS2 to integrate the station into the wider Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC) area and, given Old Oak’s prominence in the revised HS2, this has become even more significant.

The proposed new ‘town centre’ at Atlas Road is 1km from the station, and there is uncertainty as to when HS2 will hand over their construction sites in Old Oak West for redevelopment. A facilities building planned behind the station will block access from the east.

He concludes, “I hope these examples are enough to convince you to order a review of the design and layout of the station and surrounding area so it can be fit for purpose in its new role and act as a catalyst to development of the OPDC. I would be happy to discuss this with you further.”

The earlier letter from the transport minister had detailed several alternative projects which could be funded with money diverted from HS2 including ‘the delivery of 70 road schemes across the country’.

Mr Slaughter said, “May I ask that you include Hammersmith Bridge in these? You will be aware of the delay in reopening the Bridge because your department has hitherto limited its offered contribution to no more than one third of the repair costs. Given the restricted resources of
the GLA and the LB Hammersmith & Fulham, this makes it impractical for work to go ahead. If your Government’s intention is to invest in strategic and local transport projects that will benefit communities, I can think of no better place to start than Hammersmith Bridge.”

He invited the Minister to discuss the matter further copying in the Mayor, the leaders of Hammersmith & Fulham and Richmond Councils as well as local MPs Rupa Huq, Sarah Olney, Fleur Anderson and Ruth Cadbury adding, “We approached the roads minister with the same request almost a year ago and have sent several reminders but as yet have not had the courtesy of a reply.”

Mark Harper in his original letter said, “As the Prime Minister stated, we have to be prepared to take big decisions about our long-term approach to transport infrastructure. We are doing exactly that, setting out a new vision for transport which focuses on the journeys that matter most to people, drives growth and jobs and levels up our country.”

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