HS2 tunnelling could put lives at risk, new report says
Crowdfunding campaign launched to take HS2 to High Court
02 July, 2019 — By Tom Foot
HS2 workmen by a wall in Park Village East
HS2 tunnelling work could cause the “total structural collapse” of a 10-metre high wall separating homes and a railway line, according to a new report.
Chartered civil engineer Colin Elliff’s report warns of potential “catastrophic consequences” from proposed building works in Park Village East that could put “the personal safety of hundreds of rail travellers and residents at risk”.
The report, originally commissioned by Camden Civic Society, has triggered a legal challenge from resident Hero Granger-Taylor and Hodge Jones & Allen solicitors.
They have told HS2 if they do no provide detailed safety information and designs for the tunnelling proposals, they will apply for a judicial review in the High Court.
Ms Granger-Taylor, who is crowd-funding to raise legal costs, said: “There is a real chance that the wall will collapse, dragging the road and the houses down along with it. There is also a danger to life if the wall falls into the cutting, either directly onto a train or causing a derailment.
“Alternatively, according to the engineer, the wall could collapse directly into the tunnels below, as they are being built or later. There is a serious risk to life if this scheme goes ahead.”
She added: “My house is already unstable and I am anyway very worried about the damage the tunnelling could do to my home. There are parts of the road that are already sinking so I can’t imagine what tunnelling below it will do.”
The demolition of the Park Village East wall – between Parkway and Mornington Street bridge – was included in original “environmental statements” in the rail project Bill agreed by Parliament in 2017.
Although extensive demolition has been taking place in and around Euston and the Regent’s Park Estate since 2017, Hs2 maintains that it has not begun constructing the railway. Compensation packages for affected residents will be announced once construction has begun, HS2 Ltd has said.
Jayesh Kunwardia, Partner at Hodge Jones & Allen, said: “We have made repeated requests for information from HS2 about the Three Tunnels design, but nothing new has been forthcoming. There is evidence that the proposed scheme poses a serious risk of loss of life and of causing great damage to properties in the area. It is unacceptable that they have not given us sight of a complete set of drawings and Ms Granger-Taylor is left with no other choice but to take HS2 to court.”
HS2 says that modern tunnelling techniques allow “pinpoint accuracy” and that the current plan is an improvement on a previously scheme.
An HS2 Ltd statement said: “As we build Britain’s new high speed railway, safety is our top priority. We are currently working through a rigorous design and independent checking process, including geological and structural testing, before we begin construction of the Euston approach tunnels.
“Our expert contractors – Costain, Skanska and STRABAG – have delivered some of the world’s most complex and challenging engineering projects, including London’s Crossrail and Thames Tideway tunnels and Switzerland’s Gotthard Base Tunnel. At Euston, this scheme will reduce overall disruption for residents, remove the need for the reconstruction of three major road bridges and is set to halve the number of weekend closures. We are confident it can be delivered safely.”
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