Publication date 28 July 2011
Integrated Rail Plan published, minor revision 30 November 2021
RailEnable wishes to propose Aylesbury Interchange as a station stop on the High Speed 2 railway line.
An illustration of the High Speed 2 rail network is included in the Integrated Rail Plan published in November 2021. The document is available here : Integrated Rail Plan for the North and Midlands (pdf format, opens in new window or tab). Page 58 illustrates the core network.
A major issue with HS2 is its lack of accessibility on the north side of London.
The diagrammatic map below illustrates our proposal for Aylesbury Interchange (AI) as a station stop on the High Speed 2 (HS2) railway line.
One of the objectives of HS2 is to rebalance the economy. The current plan might however be regarded as London-centric. A station at Aylesbury Interchange (AI) would provide access to HS2 on the north side of London by car and rail from London, the South East, Southern England, the West Country and South Wales. Aylesbury Interchange (AI) would therefore facilitate business travel from a large catchment area to towns and cities in northern England and Scotland. AI supports the proposed Northern Powerhouse and strengthens the prospects of commercial success for HS2.
Whilst we appreciate the facilities offered by the High Speed 1 (HS1) railway line, it could be said that a weakness is to be found in the lack of integration at Ebbsfleet International with the conventional rail network. Given that St Pancras International offers a good but not perfect range of rail and Underground connections, improved connections to services on the High Speed 1 (HS1) line might, in our opinion, have been offered by greater interconnection with the conventional rail network at Ebbsfleet International, however this opportunity was missed. Ebbsfleet International provides a parkway station but not a rail interchange. In these circumstances, we would like to suggest that provision of a HS2 HS1 link provides the means to extend some existing continental services to a new international station Aylesbury International incorporated into Aylesbury Interchange, thereby improving access to the continental rail network. In particular, some passengers inconvenienced by the closure of the former Waterloo International station might be amongst those who would find Aylesbury International to be convenient. A second role of Aylesbury Interchange (AI) would therefore be to provide access to continental rail services.
A third role for Aylesbury Interchange (AI) would be to provide a railway station for rail-based journeys to London Heathrow Airport. Proposals by High Speed Two Ltd originally included a connecting line from HS2 to Heathrow. We propose that the role of this line would change to also facilitate local rail journeys to Heathrow. Aylesbury Interchange (AI) with this connecting line from AI to Heathrow would improve the rail-connectedness of Heathrow (note 1).
Aylesbury Interchange (AI) would therefore provide access to domestic High Speed rail, to continental rail services and to Heathrow.
Aylesbury Interchange (AI) would be designed as both a rail interchange station and as a parkway station. In both of these roles, AI would provide access to domestic High Speed rail (HS2), to continental rail services (HS1) and to Heathrow, in the latter case also contributing to a reduction in congestion on the M25 motorway.
To the extent that it is wise to establish a strategy for a rail network capable of withstanding a substantial increase in ridership - for example, as a result of any significant modal shift from car to rail - AI is envisaged as a key element in the realisation of such a strategy in the London area. AI therefore dovetails in with the vision for High Speed rail and provides a key feeder to the High Speed rail network. AI is designed as a major transport hub offering a wide range of connections.
AI is designed in conjunction with an express railway line westwards linking to the existing line to Swindon and South Wales, with connections from it to Reading, Oxford and Banbury. We are proposing this express line and propose that it is known as the Swindon express link, as illustrated earlier.
The Swindon express link provides access to the High Speed rail network both to the North and to Europe. This link line offers the potential for express services direct from South Wales (note 2).
The Swindon express link is envisaged as enabling a new route from the West Country and South Wales to Paddington and Heathrow via AI as an alternative to the route via Reading. This is designed to provide an efficient passenger interchange between HS2 services and services to the West Country and South Wales.
The Swindon express link necessitates upgrades to existing rail infrastructure (note 3).
Crossrail is a project to provide east-west rail services by means of a tunnel beneath central London. It is not yet in operation.
We anticipate that Crossrail and possibly also Underground services would be brought out to AI, although Crossrail services to AI would necessitate a change in service patterns from those currently envisaged for Crossrail.
An HS2 station at Old Oak Common is currently planned as the HS2 station in London or vicinity prior to the terminus at London Euston.
AI would provide the strategic connections that the station at Old Oak Common would provide, or equivalents. These include an interchange for services to the West Country and South Wales, a Crossrail interchange and an interchange for Heathrow.
AI was originally designed as an alternative for the station proposed at Old Oak Common.
One of the objectives of HS2 is to rebalance the economy. The current plan might however be regarded as London-centric. A station at AI would provide access to HS2 on the north side of London by car and rail from London, the South East, Southern England, the West Country and South Wales. AI would therefore facilitate business travel from a large catchment area to towns and cities in northern England and Scotland. We suggest that AI is a superior proposal to the proposed station at Old Oak Common and also better supports the objectives of HS2.
Concerning travel into London, there are reasonable prospects for passengers alighting from HS2 services at AI to be able to obtain seats on Crossrail services to London and on services to Heathrow, whereas services at Old Oak Common both to London and to Heathrow would be subject to crowding. Given that HS2 is envisaged as offering a premium-value service, an interchange at Aylesbury offers a compatible customer experience, whereas an interchange at Old Oak Common does not. AI offers better prospects for the commercial success of HS2 than does a station at Old Oak Common.
Old Oak Common station is under construction, to be served by trains on HS2 to Euston. The design is illustrated below. Incorporated are station stops added to nearby London Overground lines : Old Oak Common Lane on the North London line and Hythe Road on the West London line. London commuters on the Great Western Main Line suffer an additional station stop.
Given that Old Oak Common station is under construction, co-existence between Old Oak Common and AI has to be envisaged.
Source : Wikimedia. Click the map for an enlarged version.
It is natural to consider an HS2 to HS1 link via St Pancras International.
The following diagrammatic map illustrates HS2 to Euston and HS2 to St Pancras International for HS1. A change of direction is necessary at St Pancras International. No existing lines are shown except HS1 and the Midland Main Line. Euston is to be expanded as part of proposals by High Speed Two Ltd and we have included a link to connect the Midland Main Line to Euston. Long-distance services on the Midland Main Line might be re-routed to terminate at Euston instead of at St Pancras (Thameslink unaffected). The purpose of this re-routing would be to simplify the allocation of train paths (space/time slots) for arrival at and departure from St Pancras (note 4). It is possible that platforms for Midland Main Line services terminating at St Pancras would be taken out of use, equivalent platforms being provided as part of the expanded Euston station.
Services from HS2 to HS1 would call at St Pancras, whether continental services or an extension of domestic High Speed services via HS1 to Medway towns.
Trains from HS2 to HS1 would not call at Old Oak Common.
We will now turn our attention to the question of the location of AI in relation to Aylesbury.
A possible location for AI on the HS2 railway line is at the point that HS2 crosses the existing railway line from Princes Risborough to Aylesbury, maximising the potential of the conventional rail network in this area. There would reasonably be link roads to the A41 for the M25 motorway and to the A418 for the M40 motorway.
Locating AI at the point that HS2 crosses the existing railway line from Princes Risborough to Aylesbury and with some modest investment enables the roles listed above to be fulfilled.
The following diagrammatic map illustrates the rail network if AI were to be located between Princes Risborough and Aylesbury.
Some investments in the rail network are necessary, in addition to the HS2 line. The primary investment is the provision of a new express line linking to the line to Swindon and South Wales, with connections from it to Reading, to Oxford and to the Chilterns line direct to Banbury. Referred to earlier, we are proposing this express line and propose that it is known as the Swindon express link.
The current line from Princes Risborough to Aylesbury is single track. It would be re-engineered and replaced if necessary to become a dual track line i.e. permitting trains in either direction at the same time. If replaced, there would hopefully still be a service to the existing intermediary stations.
AI needs use of the national rail line past North Acton Underground station to access Paddington and for Crossrail services. At one stage, this line was envisaged in proposals by High Speed Two Ltd as providing access to London Euston by connecting into a tunnel and this would have presented a problem, in that we would have been unable to specify a cost-effective means by which South Wales in particular could benefit from the HS2 proposals without resolution of this problem, since services from South Wales via AI would use the national rail line past North Acton to access Paddington. We believe this problem has been resolved and that services on HS2 to Euston are entirely separate from services using the national rail line past North Acton. We also suggest this national rail line should not form part of an HS2 to HS1 link.
A connection enabling Aylesbury to be bypassed on the southern side of the town would enable services e.g. from Watford via the Croxley Rail Link or Metropolitan Line Extension (currently in abeyance) to Rickmansworth to run to AI without changing direction at Aylesbury. AI can operate with or without this Aylesbury bypass.
The line from Maidenhead to Bourne End, currently single track, might potentially be upgraded to restore the former dual track working and with restoration of the former line to High Wycombe. We might also envisage a connection for services on the Great Western Main Line from Reading. AI could operate without these (note 5).
We hope to have shown that the investments needed in the rail network to provide the facilities of AI - not necessarily all of the above - are modest rather than substantial.
An alternative possible location for AI is to the north west of Aylesbury. This also would maximise the potential of the conventional rail network in this area. Link roads would need to be determined.
Locating AI at this point and with some modest investment enables the previously-listed roles to be fulfilled.
The following diagrammatic map illustrates the rail network if AI were to be located to the north west of Aylesbury.
Once again, some investments in the rail network are necessary, in addition to the HS2 line. The primary investment is the provision of a new express line linking to the line to Swindon and South Wales, with connections from it to Reading, to Oxford and to Princes Risborough. Referred to earlier, we are proposing this express line and propose that it is known as the Swindon express link.
It is possible that the Swindon express link would make use of the former Ashendon link. This ran more or less parallel to the existing line from Princes Risborough to Aylesbury on an alignment further to the north west (note 6).
In no particular order, we list here some possible services at AI.
Brighton : article Aylesbury Interchange to Brighton
Cambridge and East Anglia.
A Crossrail service providing access to Central London from AI.
Crossrail or Crossrail 2 circular service : article Crossrail, or Crossrail 2, circular service via Reading
Services to Birmingham, the North and Scotland via HS2.
Luton Airport and services via the Midland Main Line - further information on this below.
Stansted Airport - further information on this below. Change at Stevenage for East Coast Main Line services.
Service to Gatwick Airport, possibly via Heathrow, possibly via Reading and Guildford, or via an HS2 HS1 link to St Pancras.
Service to Southampton Airport Parkway and Southampton, possibly via Heathrow, Woking, Basingstoke, possibly via Reading West, Basingstoke. Our article Camberley : coming in from the cold suggests a route via Reading, Wokingham, Camberley, Farnborough, Basingstoke.
West of England.
Express service to Paddington - from South Wales or West Country.
Stopping service to Paddington via Didcot and Reading.
Express service to Bristol, Cardiff, possibly Swansea.
Milton Keynes and services via the West Coast Main Line.
Chilterns Line diversion of some services e.g. Banbury, AI, Marylebone.
Alternative diversion of some services e.g. Banbury, Oxford, AI, Marylebone.
Stopping service to London Waterloo via Didcot, Reading.
Medway towns : extension of domestic High Speed services on HS1 to AI via an HS2 HS1 link.
Continental rail services.
Potential continental motorail services.
Optionally, Underground services Jubilee and Metropolitan line running from AI as express services towards Marylebone, then connecting onto existing Underground lines (note 7).
There would be two pass-through lines for non-stop services. HS2 is currently under construction and it is likely AI would connect to HS2 by means of spurs.
An exercise for the reader would be to estimate the number of platforms at AI.
AI is designed to offer a wide range of connections including to London, the South East, Southern England, the West Country, South Wales, Heathrow and routes via HS2 and HS1. AI is a major and strategic transport hub.
Inevitably, AI as a major transport hub will give rise to a perspective as regards other aspects of the rail network. As the centre of a star network, we suggest AI would reasonably offer connections to airports including Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton, Stansted and Southampton. With a wide range of airport connections, some direct services between airports via AI may be provided during times of disruption.
Our project : "East west rail - Oxford to Cambridge" proposes a service between Oxford and Cambridge via Luton Airport and offers the potential for a service between Oxford and Stansted Airport. These services can be envisaged as operating via AI or possibly commencing at AI.
Access to the WCML is via Milton Keynes, making use of the Bicester to Bletchley line currently under construction.
We responded to the initial High Speed 2 public consultation in July 2011. This article is an update to that public consultation response. Our public consultation response was : Response to HS2 public consultation (July 2011).
1. This proposal for a line from AI to Heathrow potentially offers better value for money than the proposed Heathrow Western Access from Reading to Heathrow. Direct services from South Wales or the West Country via AI to Heathrow would seem to be a possibility.
2. We understand the existing line via Swindon to Bristol Parkway and South Wales is used by limited-speed freight services, an issue that would need to be resolved.
3. The Swindon express link necessitates upgrades to existing rail infrastructure. Passengers interchanging between HS2 and the West Country and South Wales would make use of services via Swindon. Use of the existing chord between Tilehurst and Reading West would enable services to additional destinations : we believe this chord is not currently in use for passenger services.
The line from AI to Paddington/Crossrail joins the Great Western Main Line at Old Oak Common West Junction. This junction would require upgrading. It is located in the vicinity of Oak Common station currently under construction.
4. Without a link from the Midland Main Line to the expanded Euston station, capacity on the HS2 to HS1 link would seem to be limited. Services on the HS2 to HS1 link would need to share track with Midland Main Line domestic services terminating at St Pancras. Bearing in mind also that services on the HS2 to HS1 link need to change direction at St Pancras, the implication would seem to be difficulties in the allocation of train paths, therefore with the potential for delays. It seems this scenario could be simplified by the provision of a link from the Midland Main Line to platforms provided as part of the expanded Euston station specifically for services from the Midland Main Line.
5. Services from the West Country and from South Wales via Swindon currently run via Reading to Paddington. The new route via AI to Paddington might be used by selected services, others remaining on the route via Reading. At least some services from the West Country via Swindon might be routed via Reading to AI and then return home without continuing to Central London at all, operating in an anti-clockwise direction only via Reading and AI. This offers the potential to reduce congestion at Paddington. In place of such a circular route, such services might simply terminate at AI.
Concerning Heathrow, the Heathrow Southern Access proposal may include a stopping service from Heathrow to Reading via Virginia Water. Perhaps this could be extended past Didcot to AI and Heathrow, to become a circular service.
6. The Ashendon link was located north of the village of Ashendon and south of Wotton Underwood and Grendon Underwood.
A connection from the Swindon express link to Princes Risborough might be based on the former connection from the former Ashendon link to Princes Risborough. This connection would enable a service from Marylebone via Princes Risborough to AI and Aylesbury, perhaps continuing to Marylebone to provide a circular service, running both clockwise Princes Risborough to Aylesbury and anti-clockwise Aylesbury to Princes Risborough. A service on the Chilterns line diverted to run via AI might reasonably continue to Marylebone via Aylesbury, that is, not returning to use the route via Princes Risborough and High Wycombe. The first of these two services implies that the existing line from Princes Risborough to Aylesbury would no longer be needed for connections between Princes Risborough and Aylesbury, a service being available via AI. The remaining purpose of this line would be to serve the intermediary stations. It would also be used in one direction only by any circular service via Reading (note 5).
7. These Underground services may require new rolling stock capable of achieving higher speeds prior to joining existing Underground lines.
This is a RailEnable proposal.
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