The message for London and the wider south east of July’s National Infrastructure Assessment was encouraging: we have to get on with Crossrail 2. This built on the March 2016 report, Transport for a World City, in which the National Infrastructure Commission’s central recommendation was that “Crossrail 2 should be taken forward as a priority.” The case for the new railway is clear.
As Brexit nears, Britain needs to make serious decisions and investments in order to turn itself into an economy able to prosper outside of major trade blocs. Crossrail 2 – and Northern Powerhouse Rail – are the kind of infrastructure projects that we have to get moving with to support such an economy in the future.
Driving economic growth
Crossrail 2 would do that by providing capacity and improving connections across the south east and beyond, as well as linking with HS2 at Euston. It would boost the capacity of London’s rail network by ten per cent, helping relieve congestion and bringing an additional 270,000 people into central London each morning peak period. It would connect opportunity areas for house building – critically important to support the economy.
In doing so, it would boost our productivity by giving central London’s highly productive, knowledge-based industries access to a bigger labour pool; thereby boosting the UK economy by up to £150bn. It would support around 200,000 new homes, many outside London, and up to 200,000 jobs.
Keeping Crossrail 2 moving
So what’s the state of progress? Well — we’re getting there. Last year our Strategic Outline Business Case set out how London can fund 50 per cent of the cost of the scheme. And in last November’s Budget the Government reaffirmed its support for Crossrail 2.
The Secretary of State and the Mayor then commissioned an Independent Affordability Review to ensure that the project offers the best value to taxpayers and is affordable in the context on expenditure required elsewhere as well. Subject to the Mayor and Secretary of State agreeing on its recommendations in the autumn, we then need future commitments from the Treasury as we head towards the Comprehensive Spending Review.
We will also conduct a fresh public consultation next year on our revised proposals. The results of that will feed into ongoing design work and work required to deposit a Hybrid Bill in the early 2020s to get the necessary consents. That way, construction could start in the early-mid 2020s and Crossrail 2 would be operating by the mid 2030s.
By that point, our modelling shows that London and the south east will desperately need the extra capacity, with crowding at serious levels. Demand for new housing will be even more critical. But Crossrail 2 will also be making a big contribution to the whole nation’s prosperity.
I just hope I’m still alive when it opens – in my 40 years’ experience in this industry, all good things eventually happen.
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