High Speed 2 (HS2) chief executive Mark Thurston has admitted the megaproject’s stations may have to be redesigned to factor in people’s travel habits in a ’post-coronavirus world’
Thurston revealed a team has been set up within HS2 to observe the changing travel habits of the population over the next 18 months, while speaking during a Railway Industry Association (RIA) webinar on the impact of the coronavirus.
According to the AJ’s sister title New Civil Engineer, he said the initial station and train designs ’from a pre-coronavirus time’ may no longer be fit for purpose and may have to be changed during the detailed design phase to factor in things like social distancing.
’We’ve clearly got designs thus far that are based on pre-coronavirus norms. How we adjust those over time, in fact if we need to adjust them, only time will tell,’ Thurston said. ‘The likelihood is, is that the world will never be the same again and we have to figure out what we want to leave behind.’
He added: ’We need to look at what people’s habits and preferences to travel will be in the future – we are already seeing people wearing masks and like many places in Asia I think we will see that become the norm in Europe and the UK.
’From a design point of view we need to look at what that means in terms of density of people as well, both on trains and in stations.
’That is a real challenge for us and we will not know the absolute answer until we observe people’s travel habits for the next 6, 12 or 18 months, and then we adjust our designs to those habits.
’It is a great time and opportunity for HS2 and the supply chain to come together and innovate.’
Thurston added that it is important to set the ball rolling on this thinking early as there may come a time when legislation forces the industry to implement new design standards.
Weston Williamson+Partners founding partner Rob Naybour also believes that Covid-19 will drive a change in the way architects and city planners design infrastructure and the built environment.
He believes that post-coronavirus the general public will now ’think more about whether or not […] our public transport networks, airports and roads are well-enough designed to ensure our safety and security in any future crisis’.
’Momentous events will prompt reflections and incite paradigm shifts as they bring about ‘new norms’. This is why now is a good the time to learn from the current crisis and take a longer view on how we can make our built environment more resilient and safer for citizens of today and tomorrow,’ Naybour told New Civil Engineer.
’As practitioners of the built environment, we, more than anyone, know the critical importance of resilient infrastructure in shaping the future of everyone.
‘Transport infrastructure is the economic and social lifeblood of modern cities; but at the same time, it can potentially pose a huge threat to public health if its design and planning are not futureproofed.’
He added: ’How will modern global cities manage a more resilient infrastructure that protects public safety and well-being through measures such as social distancing, public engagement, screening, testing and emergency response, post-Covid-19? […] As specialists, how do we work together to find solutions for gaining the extra space?’
Last month Grimshaw secured planning approval for a new seven-platform High Speed 2 (HS2) station at Curzon Street, central Birmingham
Three separate applications for the station and surrounding area were given the green light via a digital planning committee after Birmingham City Council officers described the design by Grimshaw and WSP as ‘truly world class’.
The council’s report said: ‘The elegant and (deceptively) simple form of the main station building clearly reads as a railway station and harks back to traditional station architecture, delivering this in a confident and contemporary way.’
HS2 has already started procuring a construction contractor for the station, which is due to complete by 2026.
REVISED DESIGNS - JANUARY 2020: The proposed HS2 Curzon Street station in Birmingham