Double deck down in Grand Central NYC, so why not in Euston?

Grand Central station in NYC where we have had DDD for over a century

Grand Central station in NYC where we have had DDD for over a century

A few souls have asked me to expand on my letter in the Camden New Journal over the seasonal break, particularly when l say ” if its good enough for Grand Central in NYC, why not Euston in London?”

Firstly l had been been introduced to Double Deck Down (DDD) at Grand Central rail station at an early age by an uncle who used to work for Amtrak on trips to New York City where my aunt lived just outside NYC proper in  Long Island. I have to confuse l didn’t show the slightess bit of interest in how the station operated when he told us, as l just wanted to get on the trains and go off to where ever l was been sent! It was only recently when campaigners came to visit me at City Hall for DDD option at Euston for the HS2 to limit its environmental impact in Camden and l immediately realised l actually knew one example very well, Grand Central in New York City.

At Grand Central, NYC it was decided to create a new double level terminal for electric trains back in 1902 and took 10 years of construction while rail services continued uninterrupted. It opened just over a 100 years ago in 1913 with two levels both below ground with overall 44 platforms with 41 tracks on the upper level and 26 on the lower one. Clearly the technology will have been developed given its over a century old anyway, so why not in London with the HS2 concerns in Euston, l ask myself?

From the answers l got on the night of the last community consultation in Euston, it was clear HS2 had not really looked into the matter at all and came over very defensive about the matter when it was brought up by members of the local community, dismissing it on a confidential cost-basis. Yet it could offer the best solution to mitigate many of the adverse impacts of HS2 in Euston like the loss of a public park in St James Gardens; the local businesses in Drummond Street; and the many homes on the Regents Park Estate. I suggested that surely cost-benefit analysis could have been undertaken without breaching the release of any of the actual build costings. At least Camden Council had done a cost-benefit analysis of HS2 impact on Camden using the governments own Green Book methodology. Surely HS2 could adopt that piece of work for this assessment?

Indeed we have seen HS2 willing to undertaken mitigating works for London boroughs adversely affected by the proposed works when it offered Ealing Councils the tunnel option under the borough at between £600-800 million to the public purse last summer before the public consultations. Surely Camden residents deserve to be treated in a similar vein given they will be most affected by HS2 in the whole of the country not alone in London. This just goes to show that such issues can be addressed if HS2 are willing to listen.

But finally thank you to my uncle in NYC ( since retired & enjoying life in Long Island ) for introducing me to DDD so early in my life! I never thought it would be of use to me but it has in appreciating the various options for HS2  at Euston station. I must go over and see him soon and see if he has got any other pearls of wisdom.





6 thoughts on “Double deck down in Grand Central NYC, so why not in Euston?

  1. Chris

    It’s these kind of comments that give politicians a bad name, HS2 Ltd *have* examined the various Double Deck options and no doubt they explained the reasons to you – you can’t just wave away engineering issues because it’s politically inconvenient! For obvious reasons building multiple levels of platforms is much harder when sufficient platforms have to remain open at all times to serve the West Coast Mainline – any double deck option would take significantly longer to build, would be more disruptive to rail passengers and those living in the area, and would cost far more to build. As tube tunnels underneath limit how far the station can be sunk, it would also be much taller and less ‘permeable’ – effectively dividing the local area. It’s madness.

    1. Murad

      Then why haven’t HS2 stated any of this in public meetings when raised numerous times by residents?

      As l said the technology has been around for a century or more in my blog and would clearly have been advanced by now which usually means it won’t take as long to construct as you suggest. Furthermore, if the tube lines restrict going down then why not up? After all at Euston at present there are clearly no means of walking through Euston from Sommers Town to West Euston anyway and trust any further proposals does at least improve this.

      Its also quite clear Grand Central was built with no disruption to services for over a decade between 1903 to 1913, so l not sure where you get it was a flat surface as you suggest.

      While l maybe be no engineer, at least l look at the past to learn for the present.

      Anyway l suspect engineers from the East Asia would look at it quite differently from you. After all most of them lead the world now in building transport infrastructure.

  2. Chris

    ..oh, and Grand Central was built from scratch on a flat site over a century ago with no underground lines underneath. The comparison is irrelevant.

  3. Gerry

    The DDD idea is excellent and solves many of HS2’s environmental and operational issues in London which the current plans don’t. Lords Berkeley and Bradshaw, who between them know a bit about railways, are advocating the Euston Cross /Express scheme, which avoids most of the demolition, reduces the space needed for HS2 at Euston surface station, links with King’s Cross St.Pancras and leaves the North London line free from the huge impact which the existing proposal for the HS2 link via Camden would inflict.

    As to the complexity of tunnels beneath Euston already, sure it isn’t going to be easy or cheap to thread a mainline railway station into the subterranean spaghetti junction, but Crossrail 1 shows how state of the art tunnelling through the London clay can create a whole new axis for our public transport system. HS2 via Euston DDD is vital – without it the whole project will suffer from a sub optimal plan and a once in several lifetime’s opportunity will be lost.


  4. Julietta Cochrane

    Interesting Murad

    I was at the Pan Camden Alliance against HS2 and what a horror story HS2 Ltd are proposing !!
    DDD would be an alternative to the destruction of Camden and 10 years of uncompensated chaos.
    Even better would be to improve the line between Marylebone and Birmingham.
    Congratulations to the architect of DDD Euston who I thought wasn’t treated very well at the meeting.

    1. Murad


      Interestingly DDD has been superceded in China with triple deck stations and even ones with 5 decks!

      I quite agree with your suggestion about improvements to the Chiltern lines from Marylebone station to Birmingham would be fare better and introduce some competition for consumers! I have the pleasure of going through the station everyday and this “gentlemen of a station” will be able to handle the numbersl’m sure.

      If we do end up with HS2, it doesn’t actually need to go into Euston as Old Oak Common is a far better alternative.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *