The debate about HS2 has barely impacted upon East London. It’s not really a live issue. In fact, absolutely nobody has raised it with me. So, it seems an improbable subject for my column, but I think it’s worth a look.
The High Speed 2 rail line, (HS2), is supposed to link London first with Birmingham, then Leeds and Manchester in a second stage. Parliament has just had a debate, not about the route nor the timetable for building it, just about authorising the Government to raise and spend money on planning, consultation and buying the land.
Nothing to do with Newham, nor the East End, you’d think. The London terminus is planned for central London, probably at Euston, and the line is some years away from being built, even with the fairest of winds behind it.
Truth is, the stakes are high for Newham. We already have the High Speed 1 running through Stratford between St Pancras and the Channel Tunnel. We should capitalise on its effectiveness by making sure there is a strong link between HS1 and HS2. Stratford should become the London stop for international services that start country-wide.
It’s a sad irony, I know won’t be lost on readers, that we have an International station, in Stratford, with its own DLR station, but with no international services stopping there.
Around £1billion of taxpayers’ money has already been invested in Newham’s International Station, so it should get the services for which it was built.
Routing HS2 through Stratford benefits many communities in central and eastern London. Using Stratford will relieve the congestion at central London stations; journeys to Europe will be easier.
More domestic services would also run between Britain’s regions and Stratford, avoiding central London, and bolstering our role as a transport hub. That means more jobs, more business and greater growth. All good.
Incredibly, the Government seems to favour a link at Old Oak Common, (Where?), in West London, (No, I’d never heard of it either.), rather than bringing into full use the facilities we fought so hard for at Stratford.
I feel another campaign coming on!