After a number of wobbles, the future of Crossrail 2 has been given a boost today after transport secretary Chris Grayling and London mayor Sadiq Khan said they had agreed on the next steps for the £31bn rail project.
In a joint statement after meeting for talks last week, they said there was "no doubt" London needed new infrastructure to support its growth, and the two would work together to examine ways to improve affordability of Crossrail 2 ahead of this autumn's budget. When that is nailed down, a fresh public consultation will be launched on the project that will run services from Surrey to Hertfordshire.
Crossrail 2 is essential for the future prosperity of London and the south east, so I’m pleased that the transport secretary and I have reached an agreement to take this vital project forward.
We will continue to work together to ensure the project is value for money and provides the maximum benefits for jobs and growth in the region over the coming decades. I look forward to moving to the next stage of consultation.
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Funding question marks
The Department for Transport had queried Transport for London (TfL)’s proposed funding plan for Crossrail 2, with Grayling saying recently the funding package “hasn’t quite lived up to initial promises”. While London said it could foot half the cost of the project, the DfT wanted that met during construction.
Many of the initially floated proposals would only be retrievable once Crossrail 2 is up and running.
In the joint statement today, Grayling and the mayor said London will look to fund half of the scheme during construction. They agreed on the need to ensure a funding package which works for London "and the rest of the country and recognises other priorities", but also delivers the new capacity needed in the capital.
I am a supporter of Crossrail 2 but given its price tag we have to ensure that we get this right. The mayor and I have agreed to work together on it over the coming months to develop plans that are as strong as possible, so that the public gets an affordable scheme that is fair to the UK taxpayer.
Following a successful outcome being reached I am keen to launch a fresh public consultation to help gather views to improve the scheme and clarify the position around the safeguarded route.
Chief executive of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Colin Stanbridge, said: “We very much welcome the support of the secretary of state for Crossrail 2 and it’s vital to note that Crossrail 2 doesn’t just benefit London but the whole country, both during its construction in terms of procurement and skills and of course afterwards in the resulting infrastructure.
“London’s contribution will be more than 50 per cent and we of course stand willing to do all we can to construct an acceptable funding package.”
Time is ticking
Time is of the essence however, with the Crossrail 2 team previously saying they needed to get the go-ahead by autumn, after the General Election pushed back its initial hope of being able to move forward with the project in May. This is to ensure a hybrid bill is submitted by the end of this parliament, with an aim of opening Crossrail 2 for 2033, to tie in with HS2's development at Euston.
The Crossrail 2 team is now working towards a decision on its business case later in the autumn, to proceed with public consultation early next year. The current working plan is submitting a hybrid bill in 2020.