Published: 14 March, 2012
by DAN CARRIER
TRANSPORT Secretary Justine Greening last night (Wednesday) told the New Journal that plans to terminate the High Speed 2 rail link at Euston are now “set in stone”.
She slammed the door shut on campaigners still hoping Camden could escape the disruption caused by the London to Birmingham HS2 route.
We buttonholed Ms Greening as she joined celebrations at King’s Cross station at the official opening of a new concourse to ask her whether objections to the Euston plan are holding any weight at Westminster.
In a reply that will devastate protesters, she said: “We have chosen Euston for a number of reasons and we feel Euston is clearly the best option. I have met with councillors and others to speak to them to make sure when we bring in HS2 to Euston it will help regenerate the area and will bring opportunities to the area.”
Objectors had been trying to convince Ms Greening that it would be better for the rail link to terminate at Old Oak Common in west London. Around 500 homes face the bulldozer if the £17billion project goes ahead and there are warnings a whole community will be devastated.
Concerns about disruption run from the curry houses of Drummond Street to users of the north London overground, both of which are expected to be swept up in the route.
People living in Primrose Hill, meanwhile, fear that a tunnel carrying the trains could cause damage to their streets.
Ms Greening added: “I promise we will minimise the disruption to local people. There is a real opportunity to get the most out of the investment that HS2 will bring to Camden.”
Asked whether the Euston plan was “set in stone”, she said: “Yes, it is.”
Ms Greening claimed that the work at King’s Cross and St Pancras showed how railway renovation projects could bring massive boosts.
She said: “People will see that when we start our priority is to get it right. We can use it to make a difference and make something unique.”
At first it looked unlikely she would speak to the New Journal as her press team suggested we should simply use quotes from a press release they had written earlier about King’s Cross. But eventually, after the opening ceremony and speeches were complete, her press officers said the New Journal was allowed “two minutes to ask one question”.
Ms Greening said she had heard the case from Camden councillors to use the currently empty National Temperance Hospital on Hampstead Road for new housing to replace those lost and that she would be willing to meet traders in Drummond Street.
Ms Greening was joined at the event by London Mayor Boris Johnson and TV presenter Kevin McCloud. Other guests included Camden councillors and former Tory defence minister Michael Portillo.