HS2 Ltd “got off completely on the wrong foot with Camden” as it developed plans for the redevelopment of Euston station, HS1 Ltd’s chairman has claimed.
Speaking to Construction News ahead of the 10th anniversary of the opening of High Speed 1, Rob Holden (pictured) said: “People claim they’ve learned lessons from HS1, but I’m not so sure that’s the case with HS2 or other projects.
“We dedicated a huge amount of time to understanding and trying to take people with us, and recognising the value of compromise.
“From what I’ve seen and observed, HS2 got off completely on the wrong foot with Camden and the local community at Euston, which gave rise to all the stories you’ve read [about].
“Once you’re in that position with an authority, particularly quite an influential one like Camden, it takes a long time to get it back to where it needs to be.”
Campaigners in Camden have long expressed concern about the potential negative impacts of HS2’s construction, with the redevelopment of Euston in particular set to be one of the most difficult elements of the £55.7bn project’s delivery.
Mr Holden was chief executive of London and Continental Railways, the organisation that oversaw the construction of HS1. He was also chief executive of Crossrail from 2009 to 2011.
Daniel Kemp explores what Britain’s first high-speed rail project can teach HS2.
HS1 opened 10 years ago today on 7 November 2007, when it was officially unveiled by the Queen in a ceremony at the refurbished St Pancras International station.
Speaking about the lessons the project offers for HS2, Mr Holden said the UK’s first high-speed railway reduced risk by using existing French signalling technology, in contrast to the new systems being developed for HS2.
He said: “Contrast that with HS2 and what they’re trying to do … trying to create a legacy.
“That imparts huge amounts of risk, and maybe because I’m an accountant I’m more cautious than most.
“I like to minimise the risk I’m carrying, [which] therefore gives ourselves a better chance of success in what is a complicated environment.”
He also hinted that HS2 Ltd could one day take over the operation and maintenance of HS1’s infrastructure.
HS1 currently subcontracts O&M work to Network Rail (High Speed), a subsidiary of Network Rail.
Mr Holden said: “HS2 maybe will provide a competitor to Network Rail (High Speed), when we look at the time of their contract renewal for perhaps an alternative operator of our asset. It’s a possibility, if they go down that route.”
HS2 has been contacted for comment.