Greengauge 21 is publishing a new report to help inform work being commissioned to look into ways of improving connections between HS2 and Europe.

It shows how a tunnelled connection across the London Borough of Camden can be combined with an underused surface railway westwards from Old Oak Common to bring connectivity and coherence to the plans for the London end of HS2.

Last week the Higgins Review came to the welcome conclusion that the low capacity HS1–HS2 link originally conceived and proposed by HS2 Ltd involved too many compromises. Sir David Higgins concluded it would be better to consider an alternative. The Secretary of State for Transport agreed and announced that the version of the link proposed by HS2 Ltd was being dropped from the HS2 hybrid bill and a study to find a better alternative would be commissioned.

Director of Greengauge 21, Jim Steer said:

A new solution to the HS1- HS2 link needs to consider all traffic that could use a re-specified link. In addition to international travel there is substantial demand for cross-London travel. An extension of the Southeastern ‘Javelin’ and HS1 international services to Old Oak Common and Heathrow would provide for cross-London markets and the Javelin services could be readily extended over the Chiltern Trains line to serve places such as High Wycombe, Aylesbury and Oxford. New international services could provide opportunities for same station interchange between HS1 and HS2 at Heathrow and Old Oak Common. This would bring substantial benefits. It would improve the business case and value of HS2, as well as allow HS1 to operate to its full potential.

The report suggests that adverse impacts on London Overground – one of the problems with the proposal now dropped – can be avoided. Preliminary work by Transport for London has identified a tunnelled option that can support a mix of international and cross-London demand. West of Old Oak Common, accessing Heathrow can be achieved by using an existing rail corridor – unused except for one train per day – and the link already planned for HS2 to reach Heathrow.

Cross-London Javelin

Jim Steer said:

There is a long list of benefits that a re-designed HS1 – HS2 link should exploit:

  • It protects the possibility of direct services from the North to continental Europe without constraining the best use of available HS2 capacity
  • The full value of the line capacity provided by HS1 depends on extra terminus capacity and Heathrow is a good choice for a second southern international destination given its new rail links direct to the west
  • Extending HS1 in this way maximises HS2 investment by enabling same-station interchange between HS1 and HS2. Travellers from Scotland, the North and the Midlands would be able to use HS2 and interchange directly to continental European services using HS1
  • Heathrow – Paris high speed rail services will reduce the number of short haul air services
  • The international platforms at Stratford will be brought into use
  • By making longer distance cross-London journeys possible by rail that just are not easily possible today, pressure will be taken off the M25
  • Javelin services from Kent would be extended to Old Oak Common, Heathrow, Oxford and Aylesbury, providing the Chilterns with a cross-London Javelin service, and direct access to international high speed rail services and to Crossrail.

Jim Steer believes that besides having the support of authorities and businesses in the North and the Midlands and to the south and east of London, this proposal would bring direct benefits to many areas between London and Birmingham, including Buckinghamshire. He adds: “A revised HS1-HS2 link capable of delivering this wide set of benefits should be developed and powers sought at the earliest opportunity, if possible as an addition to the current Phase 1 hybrid Parliamentary Bill in due course.

Kent County Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport, David Brazier, said:

This is an excellent scheme which will receive strong support in Kent. Our Council is committed to seeing the extension of High Speed rail opportunities from Kent, and this new link would pave the way for future domestic rail service improvements to destinations beyond London. It would also provide a long-term solution for the option of future international services from cities north of London to European destinations.

Geoff Inskip, Chief Executive, Centro said:

The importance of a direct link from the North and Midlands cannot be overstated. This proposal is very welcome and we need to see it implemented at the earliest opportunity

Notes for editors

Greengauge 21 was established in 2006, and seeks to act in the national and the public interest, by carrying out research and bringing forward evidence so that a full and open debate on high-speed rail can take place.

For further details about Greengauge 21 please visit our website:

Please see also Greengauge 21’s recently published Jobs Analysis report.

The report published today builds on previous work by Greengauge 21, published in a series of reports:

The Heathrow Opportunity (2010)

Travel Market Demand and the HS1-HS2 link (2013)