Easing London’s overcrowded transport network has to be a priority – we simply can’t afford to ignore the problem. But can we afford to build the solution?
Crossrail 2 is brand new railway line proposed for London. Stretching from north east to south west London, via King’s Cross, Chelsea and Haringey, the scheme would finally create a direct link between distant parts of the capital.
The line is urgently needed and it also has the potential to unlock whole new areas for investment and new homes. But – with an estimated cost of £27.5 billion – who is going to pay for it, and how?
Last week, the London Assembly Budget and Performance Committee heard from the Mayor’s Adviser Daniel Moylan as well as representatives from London First and consultancy firm PwC on how the scheme might be financed.
London’s population is growing – so standing still isn’t an option
The Greater London Authority estimates that the capital’s population will reach 9 million by 2018 and 10 million by 2034. London’s transport network just won’t be able to cope if we don’t invest in major new schemes like Crossrail 2.
We need to create modern infrastructure that reflects where people actually live – and not just rely on already overcrowded Victorian-era routes.
Which of course begs the questions of where all the new Londoners will go? One of the great benefits of Crossrail 2 is that it brings the potential to unlock whole areas of land – in effect, creating whole new parts of London.
For instance, if we take the proposed route all the way up to the Lower Lea Valley, Crossrail can unlock a whole new growth area for London.
With the research hub of Cambridge nearby, and Stansted airport opening the area to the world, this area could be a whole new real research and design hub in its own right, as well as encouraging developers to build tens of thousands of new homes in the area.
London can – and should – contribute to the costs
London is the powerhouse of the UK economy. As Crossrail 1 has showed, London is able to help the national government to fund its major transport infrastructure projects – something that other regions of the country are not expected to do.
It is clear that the details of how to fund Crossrail 2 need to be ironed out in the coming years. Fare revenue, a Business Rates Supplement and the Community Infrastructure Levy can all reduce the call on the Exchequer to fund the scheme.
But Crossrail 2 isn’t just a project that will benefit London. The areas surrounding the proposed route – from Surrey to Essex and Cambridgeshire – will benefit from vastly improved connection times and links.
And the UK economy will benefit from the increased tax revenues that will be generated and shared across the country as a result of Crossrail 2.
It isn’t just London that benefits – so it isn’t just London that should pay. Getting the balance right between the funding sources will be crucial in driving potential benefits for Crossrail 2 through to reality.
We must make progress with Crossrail 2
The Committee is supportive of Crossrail 2. There is a real and pressing need for it and London is willing and able to pay its fair share.
The Mayor and TfL will be lobbying the next government for funding to develop the planning powers that will be needed to get the scheme underway. We hope there is funding identified in the next Comprehensive Spending Review – whoever wins the election.
London is open to a conversation – let’s hope central government is ready is to listen.