MP warns South West rail passengers of 'decade of disruption' while HS2 station built

A train at Plymouth station
A Plymouth MP has warned passengers are facing years of disruption because of HS2 work in London -Credit:Reach Plc

A Plymouth MP has issued a fresh warning over a "decade of disruption" he says rail passengers travelling to London face amid plans to build a new HS2 station in the capital.

MP Luke Pollard for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, said building the station at Old Oak Common in west London would affect rail passengers travelling between the South West and Paddington.

HS2 says the "super hub" will be the "largest new railway station ever built in the UK". The Department for Transport (DoT) said it was working to mitigate any disruption.

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Mr Pollard asked for a briefing on the issue for MPs, which took place earlier this week. He said it revealed that the work could lead to a "large number of weekend closures" of the Great Western mainline between Reading and London Paddington.

He said MPs were told that the new station in west London for HS2 would result in longer journey times and closures for passengers travelling from the South West to the capital. The briefing in Parliament on Tuesday (May 7) was given by Great Western Railway and Network Rail.

In March, Mr Pollard wrote to the Transport Secretary, Mark Harper MP, to warn of a "decade of disruption" to rail passengers in the South West because of the construction of Old Oak Common.

Mr Pollard said: "Without proper mitigation, the government’s plans to build a new station at Old Oak Common in London will result in a decade of disruption for passengers in the south west."

He said the meeting heard that the construction of the new station will require between 16-18 days of closure a year on the Great Western mainline once construction begins in earnest next year. New speed restrictions will be introduced and a new diversion route to London Euston is being considered when Paddington is closed.

He is now organising a cross-party delegation of MPs from the region to meet the Rail Minister later this month to discuss what mitigations are required and to encourage ministers to be transparent with the travelling public about their plans.

The briefing held this week in Parliament was attended by south-west Conservative MPs Anne-Marie Morris MP, George Eustice MP, Simon Jupp MP as well as Labour MPs from South Wales.

Responding to Mr Pollard's letter to Mr Harper in March, a DfT spokesperson said: "The disruption referred to in this letter relates to construction work taking place many years in the future. While Network Rail and train operating companies are responsible for communicating with passengers and ensuring there are alternative travel options during works, we are always open and honest about the disruption caused during construction of infrastructure projects and what mitigations are in place to address this.

"As well as the new interchange at Old Oak Common referred to in this letter, thanks to reallocated HS2 funding we will see more investment into local transport improvements such as the reopening the rail line between Plymouth and Tavistock and reintroducing passenger services to Wellington and Cullompton."

They added that the department was working with Network Rail, HS2 Ltd, and train operating companies to minimise the impacts of disruption. The reallocated HS2 funding would be invested in local transport improvements including reopening stations and reintroducing rail passenger services to Wellington and Cullompton, reinstating five miles of track and a new station at Tavistock to connect it with Plymouth.

The department said the Levelling Up Fund would also deliver a new station on the Okehampton Line and would 'transform' rail services in mid Cornwall with a £50m contribution to the Mid Cornwall Metro scheme.