Patrick McLoughlin said that the government had commissioned a "feasibility study" to look into the possibility of a new rail link between the West Coast Main Line and the new Crossrail station at Old Oak Common. The new line would provide direct journeys from major commuter towns including Tring, Hemel Hempstead and Harrow to the centre of London and the West End, saving commuters up to 15 minutes and an additional change to southbound Northern and Victoria London Underground lines at Euston, he said.
"We are investing record amounts to build a world-class railway, so it is vital we seize every opportunity to make the most of these once in a generation schemes," McLoughlin said. "That is why I have asked HS2 Ltd to work closely with the Crossrail sponsors to look at extending Crossrail services to key destinations in Hertfordshire."
"Not only would this be a huge boost to passengers and the local economy, it would also provide flexibility when building HS2 into Euston, making sure we create a lasting legacy for the station," he said.
As with any feasibility study, the announcement does not guarantee that the proposed extension would go ahead without further consideration of costs and other factors. In addition, McLoughlin has said that any changes cannot affect the timetable, planned service pattern or scheduled 2019 start date for the existing Crossrail scheme.
Crossrail is London's first complete new underground rail line since the Victoria line was completed in the 1960s and is due to open in 2019. The line will run between Maidenhead and Heathrow in the west and Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east via new tunnels under central London, and will increase London's rail-based capacity by 10%. A planned 'Crossrail 2', running from north to south, is currently at the consultation phase but is also envisaged to run via Euston.
In his report on faster, more efficient delivery of the planned new HS2 high speed rail line between London, the Midlands and Manchester and Leeds, HS2 Ltd chair Sir David Higgins recommended a "more ambitious" redevelopment of Euston as its proposed London terminus. This project would "transform and regenerate" the local area and could be delivered by the private sector, he said. HS2 Ltd and Network Rail have been asked by the government to develop more comprehensive proposals for the redevelopment of Euston in response to this report.
Current plans for Euston station include the construction of 11 new platforms custom-built for high speed trains and potential over-station development, which could include housing and business space.