London’s proposed Crossrail 2 rail link “should be taken forward as a priority” according to the National Infrastructure Commission, the body set-up by ministers to assess the country’s longterm infrastructure needs.
The project, which could open in 2030, would link Cheshunt in Hertfordshire to Epsom in Surrey, passing through Clapham Junction, Victoria and Tottenham Court Road.
Supporters say it would slash journey times and support the creation of thousands of new homes and jobs which are necessary to meet the needs of London’s booming population.
The scheme would need ministerial and parliamentary approval before it could go ahead and is expected to cost around £27bn.
A report published by the Commission on Thursday says “more than half” of that sum should be raised within London to ensure the capital “contributes its fair share”.
In November 2014 a report commissioned by Transport for London suggested that the cash could be raised through a combination of fares, council tax and a levy on developments.
Today’s report says any funding package should “maximise private sector involvement” in the development of stations and their surrounding areas and suggests delaying the north-western branch of the line to reduce the scheme’s initial costs by around £4 billion.
Although sections of proposed route have been safeguarded and consultations held, more work is needed to develop the scheme fully.
Today’s report says TfL and government should provide the funds necessary for this work so that the legislation needed for the scheme’s eventual approval could be put before parliament by autumn 2019.
Lord Adonis, chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, said: “By the 2030s London will be a megacity of more than 10 million people.
“Even allowing for planned investment and the imminent arrival of the East-West Crossrail line, the capital will grind to a halt unless significant further improvements are made.
“That’s why London needs Crossrail 2 as quickly as possible. A new North-East to South-West line would help relieve severe overcrowding across some of the busiest Network Rail stations in the country, and the most congested Underground lines and overground commuter routes.”
NIC’s recommendations have been welcomed by the London Assembly Transport Committee which is a major supporter of Crossrail 2.
Chair Valerie Shawcross CBE said: “The onus is now on the Chancellor to include development funding for Crossrail 2 in next week’s Budget. If it is to be up and running by the early 2030’s, work needs to begin in earnest now. Crossrail 2 will be great for London but the Hybrid Bill and the environmental impact assessments must be completed as soon as possible.
“Crossrail 2 offers jobs, flexibility and connectivity for London and with our rapidly growing population; it needs to move ahead urgently”
Today’s report has also been welcomed by the Institution of Civil Engineers.
London Director Suzanne Moroney said: “We welcome the Commission’s conclusion that Crossrail 2 will help to deliver the much improved capacity and connectivity the capital will need, generate thousands of new homes and should be a priority. The Commission is also right to recommend that funds to enable the rail link are released now.
“If we are to tackle the future challenges of population growth and climate change, and retain London’s position as a leading global city, we must plan and mobilise the finance and skills for key infrastructure projects like this now.
“It is the Commission’s role to identify our long term infrastructure needs, and recommend how they can best be met. Its recommendation for the capital has been set out, and we now await a positive response from the Chancellor, so the business case revision can progress swiftly and the hybrid Bill is submitted in Parliament as soon as possible.”
Sue Terpilowski OBE, London Policy Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses, said:“We are delighted that Lord Adonis has released this report in time for the Budget, which shows quite clearly the necessity to press the button on Crossrail2.
“The population in London will hit 11.3 million by the year 2050 and London needs to take tough infrastructural decisions to meet the demands of small business. We hope the Chancellor gives the go-ahead to the scheme when he stands at the dispatch box on March 16th.”
However Caroline Russell, the Green Party’s national transport spokesperson and a candidate for the London Assembly, has disagreed with the Commission’s calls for Londoners to shoulder so much of the scheme’s costs.
She commented: “We are very much in favour of any commitment to fund development of Crossrail 2. As London continues to grow and car-related air pollution worsens, long-term investment in major public transport infrastructure is the only sensible way forward.
“But the government ought to be footing more of the bill rather than expecting London fare-payers, who already have the most expensive public transport in Europe, to come up with half the cost.
“The next Mayor, whoever it is, should negotiate hard to make sure London’s public transport doesn’t become even more expensive.”