HC Deb 12 July 1961 vol 644 cc51-2W
Sir F. Markham

asked the Minister of Transport whether he has approved the British Transport Commission's plans for the reconstruction of Euston main line and Underground stations; what is the estimated cost of this scheme; and whether it includes provision for the removal of the historic buildings, including the Doric Arch, the preservation of which was recommended by the Royal Fine Arts Commission.

Mr. Marples

I have given approval in principle to the early reconstruction of the Euston main line and Underground stations, which is made necessary by the main line electrification and by increased traffic demands. This scheme is urgent not only because of the electrification programme but because the Underground lifts have almost reached the end of their useful life. The Underground scheme will cost about £700,000, but a detailed estimate is not yet available for the much more extensive work involved in the main line station reconstruction.

All possible ways of preserving the historic buildings in situ have been considered by the British Transport Commission and by independent advisers, but they have been forced to the conclusion that the operational requirements make this impracticable. The possibility of moving the Doric Arch to another part of the site has also been examined by the Commission and by the expert advisers to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Works. They estimate that the cost of dismantling and re-erecting the Arch alone, without its flanking lodges, would be about £190,000 as compared with £12,000 for simple demolition. The Arch weighs about 4,500 tons, and to brace it and remove it on rollers would cost even more.

The Government has decided that the preservation of the Arch does not justify expenditure of this order. This decision has not been reached without regret at the passing of a major monument of the early railway age, but there is no practicable alternative. The Commission have accordingly been informed that they may proceed on this basis.

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