HS2 has won a court case which threatened to seriously alter their plans to dig train tunnels to Euston station.

The current plans are for three large tunnels to run from Euston station to link it with the HS2 line, but a local resident near the station, who it was noted also opposes HS2 in principle, Ms Hero Granger-Taylor had sued HS2 claiming that the design was fatally flawed.

Her argument was that the tops of one of the three tunnels would come too close to the bottom of the foundations of the retaining wall that lines the existing mainline railway cutting on the approach to Euston station.

The concern being that if the retaining wall were to collapse, not only would the landslip block the mainline railway, the collapse would likely cause considerable damage to the houses that line the road next to it – including her own.

Her claim was that the design of the tunnel approaches to Euston station was “inherently dangerous”, and as such it breached her human rights “to family and private life and quiet enjoyment of property”.

Schematic – image from the judgement

Although initial hearings allowed the case to proceed, the case was dismissed today following written submissions from both sides.”

Although the gap between the top of the tunnel and the bottom of the retaining wall seems small – at 1.5 metres, it’s well within tunnelling tolerances. Also, as with all tunnel projects, a lot of monitoring equipment is used to check for subsidence, and if necessary, apply compensation grouting or similar to offset the soil loss below. The shallowness of the gap does make that harder but is still achievable.

The main flaw in her argument as written up in the judgement was that at the moment, HS2 is still developing the plans for how it will dig the tunnels, and hence the plans are unsafe, whereas HS2’s counter-argument was that plans cant be deemed unsafe if the plans don’t exist yet.

The case, therefore, turned on whether the final designs were likely to be not just dangerous, but also that HS2 would proceed anyway knowing the risks.

In his ruling, the judge wrote that “I cannot conclude on all the evidence that the three tunnels design is so inherently flawed in the vicinity of the retaining wall that no engineering solution could be found to construct it safely”

He also noted that it seemed impossible to accept that HS2 would be “so reckless and so wilful that it is dogmatically persevering with a concept that it does not believe can be delivered safely.”

Although HS2 is pushing on with the design for the three tunnels approach to Euston station it is noted that if they are unable to design a viable method of constructing it, they are likely to seek an alternative design.

He concluded that the tunnelling project “strikes a fair balance between her private interests and the wider public interest in implementing an important infrastructure project”.


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  1. Melvyn says:

    The Fifteen Billion Pound Railway on Crossrail showed how Crossrail tunnels were close to existing tube tunnels at Tottenham Court Road but the tunnels were built without incident.

    As for this retaining wall well one solution would be to demolish the wall before building HS2 tunnels and install a temporary replacement especially given the amount of construction taking place in this area.

    As the article mentions no firm plans exist so opposing something that may never happen is a waste of time and ruins any chance of future opposition !

    It’s worth remembering how Christian Wolmar in a recent documentary about Crossrail mentioned how ” The one thing we are good at in this country is tunnelling !” and with Crossrail built the supersewer is now underway!

  2. S Green says:

    What we’re also good at in this country is NIMBYism and using every available means to stiffle and add cost to practically every infrastructure project even when they know their claims are vexatious.

    It’s no wonder costs balloon ever upwards.

  3. Steve says:

    “As for this retaining wall well one solution would be to demolish the wall before building HS2 tunnels and install a temporary replacement especially given the amount of construction taking place in this area.”

    Earlier in the evolution of the HS2 design, (when the plan was to have it in a deep retained cutting,) they were planning to demolish and rebuild the retaining wall. The design changed to the tunnelled solution retaining the wall, thereby negating the need for 2 years of d-walling in Park Village East (closing it for the duration.)

    It seems no design evolution will satisfy some people and many are determined to object anything/everything related to HS2 they can find a pretext to do so.

    Another commentor called this a vexatious claim, and I agree it’s exactly that. In light of that I’m glad costs were awarded against the claimant and not the public purse as taxpayers should not have to be footing the bill for for such vanity exercises.

  4. ChrisC says:

    I read some of the comments on the fund raising page and a lot of people really don’t understand the concept of a judicial review and that it is about process followed not stopping the scheme.

    If she had won some were thinking that it would mean the end of H2S when all that would happen in that HS2 would have to redo that part of the process the judge found they had erred with and check the numbers etc and which at the end of the would likely not change their approach.

    The jusdge could even have ruled that HS2 was flased but the flaws were so minor the result wold be the same.

    Happens so many times. A local group wins a JR and the local council (it’s usually councils) rerun the process to fix the error the judge has identified and in almost all cases the original decision made is still the decision made afterwards.

  5. Williams119 says:

    Interestingly the report makes reference to the Oakervee Review. The review reccomended a simplified Euston approach based on an overall 14tph over HS2 instead of 18, and the whole Three Tunnels approach is therefore in doubt anyway.

    Which potentially makes it an even bigger waste of everyone’s time and money.

    • NickC says:

      You may have missed the detail with everything else going on at the moment but the government decided not to accept the 14tph recommendation part of the the review and is pushing ahead with 18tph.

  6. Christopher Prideaux says:

    HS2 are prevaricating their plans must be finalised before the Court can consider.
    Secondly their plans must be costed HS2 costs are out of control and it would seem certain that this matter will make things worse

  7. Terry costin says:

    Overall the whole process is flawed, just think of it as the biggest design and build project you’ve seen,in other words the budget will be doubled or even trebled to what was initially cited ,as I have 40 yes in the industry in trade and management I believe I can justify my statement through experience.

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