The planned timeline for Crossrail 2 could be pushed off track by a fresh funding hurdle as the Department for Transport (DfT) plans an independent financing review for the £31bn project.
London mayor Sadiq Khan met transport secretary Chris Grayling this month for further talks regarding the railway which would serve stations throughout the south east, with a mayoral spokesperson saying it was "a productive meeting where both reasserted their commitment to progressing with Crossrail 2".
Grayling said in July that London had to meet half of Crossrail 2’s costs during construction, with Transport for London (TfL) then submitting revised funding proposals to the government.
TfL was hoping for the green light in the autumn to get a consultation underway early next year, after its original aim to get the thumbs up on its business case and funding plan in May, was scuppered due to the snap General Election.
While the Autumn Budget said the government would continue to work with TfL on the funding of Crossrail 2, it outlined that an independent funding and financing review would now take place.
TfL said today it was working with the DfT "to agree the terms of reference" for the review, meaning plans for a Crossrail 2 consultation look set to be put on the back burner.
In TfL’s investment programme report released this month, the transport body said it plans to run a major public consultation on the railway next year, to then safeguard land along the proposed route for development.
It can also then press on with work for the hybrid bill it would need to submit to parliament to get construction underway.
While the government has voiced its support for the railway, the DfT will only consider a public consultation after the independent review has deemed the funding plans a success, and it is yet to be determined how long the review will take.
Crossrail 2 managing director Michele Dix has said she wants to get the hybrid bill submitted in the early part of 2020, with timing viewed as crucial to ensuring construction gets underway to tie in with HS2’s arrival at Euston, in order to prepare for the expected surge in passengers that will bring.
Shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald said: "If the Tories continue to drag their feet over Crossrail 2, the cost of the project will rise and London and the national economy will miss out."
A spokesperson for the DfT said:
Crossrail 2 has the potential to unlock new housing, jobs and development and provide London with infrastructure that will support its growth.
We need to ensure the public gets an affordable scheme that is fair to the UK taxpayer, and are clear that we must improve transport in lockstep across the whole country.
We recognise the potential in the funding proposal the mayor has proposed. Through the independent funding and financing review, we look forward to working with the mayor to further develop it.