London mayor Sadiq Khan will meet transport secretary Chris Grayling for crunch talks on the future of Crossrail 2 in the next fortnight as he looks to secure a commitment on Transport for London's (TfL) business case for the £31bn project.
Speaking at the Westminster Property Association’s (WPA) Crossrail summit today, London’s deputy mayor for transport Val Shawcross said the Crossrail 2 team was hoping the government will be in a position, if not to give a final view, "to give us some hints of direction" for the rail project's future when the talks take place.
The proposed Crossrail 2 route would be tunnelled from New Southgate and Tottenham Hale in the north, to Wimbledon in the south, providing an interchange with other London Underground, Overground and rail services.
Crossrail 2's managing director Michele Dix had wanted a decision on the TfL business case by the end of May, but the June General Election threw a spanner in the works and meant the Crossrail 2 team had to revisit its work programme.
The expectation now is that the go-ahead needs to happen by the autumn, to keep the wider timeline on track.
“We’ve been working on the assumption that we’d need a green light in the autumn, so that’s when we want to get the decision,” Dix said today. Getting the go-ahead in the autumn would then mean pressing ahead with a consultation at the beginning of next year, "with a view to getting the hybrid bill in 2020".
Achieving Royal Assent by 2021/2022, would then mean construction could get underway with the aim of opening around 2033.
Dix also discussed the financial impact of pushing back the huge infrastructure project.
“If you delay the scheme by a year, construction costs will go up by £1.87bn a year, but there is also a cost in terms of lost benefits to the economy each time you delay it as well,” she added.
Proponents for Crossrail 2 have cited the need for the project, both for easing crowding on public transport, as well as unlocking the construction of 200,000 homes.
James Cooksey, WPA chairman, said at today's summit: “The time is now. Working in partnership with local and national government, private sector leaders are ready to support it.”
Dix said the government wanted London to demonstrate it can foot half the cost, and that this should be met during construction.
The DfT has said a “thorough analysis” is currently underway to ensure the case proposed by TfL “is a robust scheme”.
There have also been concerns raised that proceeding with Crossrail 2 could come at the expense of other projects across the UK.
“I think the barriers as we see it at the moment, are possibly more about the fact that the Northern Powerhouse, or the northern rail project, there isn’t a scheme as such,” Shawcross said today. “It’s not as well developed technically and design-wise as the scheme in London.”
She floated the idea that the Crossrail 2 team could lend its expertise to help develop such a scheme, so the projects could be run in parallel.
“For me there’s a question about whether or not, if asked, would we be able to share some of our experience, professional experience, and help get together a scheme for the Northern Powerhouse so that we could work together," she said.