East Ham Labour MP Stephen Timms on the HS2 and the Channel Tunnel Rail Link


- Credit: Archant

Stephen Timms MP, Labour: East Ham

Last week in the Commons, I raised with the Transport Secretary the planned inter-connection between the new high speed railway, HS2, and the Channel Tunnel Rail Link. I said it needed more capacity than three trains per hour. I hope he can be persuaded.

Twenty-five years ago, I started the campaign to bring Channel Tunnel trains to Stratford. Many were sceptical – the Rail Link was due to run south of the Thames, not north. But we knew it would be the key to attracting new jobs and development. John Prescott, as Deputy Prime Minister, finally made the right decision. And that opened up the possibility of hosting the Olympic Games.

Today we have a station called “Stratford International”. But there still aren’t any international trains which actually stop there. I see Stratford International as the future hub for Britain’s high speed rail network.

High speed trains from Paris and Brussels will one day run to Birmingham, Manchester and Edinburgh. They will run up the Channel Tunnel Rail Link – now called High Speed 1 – and on to the new line. The Government’s initial proposal is for a single track inter-connection, allowing only three trains per hour. This is ludicrous.

With a proper twin track connection, new possibilities emerge. For example, trains from Brussels to Birmingham could make Stratford their one London stop, saving time. Trains on HS2 could run to Stratford and beyond, instead of having to terminate at Euston. This would help address one of the major problems with HS2 – the need to demolish a large estate to make space for new platforms at Euston.

Answering me last week, the Transport Secretary said “I will consider what he has said and try to ensure that we provide that connectivity.” After 25 years, our campaign still has a lot to do.