Businesses call for swift decision on Crossrail 2 to avoid derailing its timeline after Chris Grayling is reappointed transport secretary

 
Rebecca Smith
Business groups said Chris Grayling was familiar with the detail on the project
Business groups said Chris Grayling was familiar with the detail on the project (Source: Getty)

Business groups have ramped up pressure on the government to green-light Crossrail 2's business case and funding plan now Chris Grayling has been reappointed to the cabinet as transport secretary.

While Crossrail 2 managing director Michele Dix said the planners wanted the go-ahead by the end of May "at the latest", the General Election pushed that hope off track as the government said it would leave the decision on the £30bn project to the next government.

The Conservatives also left out any mention of a commitment to the project in their manifesto.

Read more: Crossrail 2 set to be derailed by the General Election

Sean McKee, policy director at the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), said:

The decision to take Crossrail 2 to the next stage is one thing that the government can do to offer businesses some good news in this time of uncertainty.

Chris Grayling's reappointment could be a boost, as "he is also up to speed with all the details and complexities of the issue", according to McKee. "So we would urge him to make a decision and make the right one – to go ahead with this vital infrastructure link as soon as possible."

David Leam, infrastructure director at London First, agreed that "a decision is needed", and Grayling's reappointment provides a good opportunity to get on with developing the project as "he gets it in a fundamental way".

Leam said business groups and the mayor will be saying to Grayling this week that Crossrail 2 "is our top priority", in the hope of getting a decision by the end of July, so Transport for London can flesh out more details.

"If we don't get on with it, we will start to feel the consequences," Leam warned. "We'd be mad not to pursue Crossrail 2."

Some have raised concerns that Crossrail 2, which will run north-south through London between Hertfordshire and Surrey, could be put on the backburner for fear the government be seen as focusing too much on the capital. But Leam said: "We can't fall into that trap."

Read more: Crossrail 2 is vital for London – but it’s in the national interest too

"The other thing the government needs to do is press on with transport schemes in other areas too, so working with the new metro mayors in West Midlands and Greater Manchester, because what the country wants to see is transport challenges addressed across the country," he said.

If given the go-ahead, the Crossrail 2 team will prepare for a hybrid bill, with the original plan to submit that to parliament by the autumn of 2019.

The timeline plans for Royal Assent by 2021/2022 and would then start building ready to open for 2033, "just in time for HS2 Phase 2 to arrive at Euston", according to Dix. She wants Crossrail 2 to tie in with HS2 so the full benefits of both can be realised.

“Without Crossrail 2 at Euston, quite a few of the benefits gained from travelling down from the North will be lost while you wait in a queue at Euston,” Dix said at a London Chambers of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) policy meeting in April.

As yet, the Department for Transport has not been drawn on when a decision on Crossrail 2 will be announced.

A government spokesman said: “We have received the strategic outline business case from Transport for London (TfL) and will carefully consider it to ensure it is robust and includes a fair, sustainable and deliverable funding plan.”

TfL has said it remains "committed to consulting on revised proposals for the railway at the earliest possible time".

Read more: We should build Crossrail 2 and the private sector is going to pay for it

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