A £31bn plan to build a second Crossrail risks going off track as fresh delays threaten to hinder the intended route for the new railway, with concern over land and property costs around parts of it which aren't safeguarded.
With funding and a hybrid bill which would give the green light to a revised Crossrail 2 route, the wider timeline has also been pushed back, according to Transport for London (TfL) Committee papers published ahead of a meeting next week.
A consultation on the route which was meant to go ahead in early 2018 is now expected in the first quarter of next year "at the earliest", with a hybrid bill to be submitted in the early 2020s as opposed to 2020.
The current safeguarded route, land which is protected from other conflicting development, does not reflect the one in TfL's latest business case. Its team had been hoping to secure revised safeguarding following a route-wide consultation at the beginning of this year.
But with that postponed for the government's independent funding and financing review, the TfL papers say: "Risk to the land and property costs is emerging as the current safeguarding directions do not reflect the [strategic outline business case] route alignment."
TfL is now working with the Department for Transport (DfT) to "mitigate this risk".
At present, the Crossrail 2 team is carrying out further affordability work and will then produce another revised business case to the government.
The papers add that with work still ongoing, other milestones have been delayed:
Noting that the government has not committed to the preparation of a hybrid bill, nor the funding for the construction of the scheme, for planning purposes we have assumed that a route-wide consultation would be launched in the first quarter of 2019 at the earliest while completing further design work could enable the submission of a hybrid bill in the early 2020s.
The DfT has said it recognises the potential in the Crossrail 2 funding proposal, but wants to ensure the public gets "an affordable scheme that is fair to the UK taxpayer".
Michele Dix, TfL’s managing director for Crossrail 2, said today: "We have been updating our work to show how London could pay for half of the costs of Crossrail 2 during construction, as we agreed with the Department for Transport last summer. We have examined different ways to reduce the overall cost of the scheme and have looked for potential savings in the design, in order to ensure best value for money."
We are now working with the DfT to agree the terms of reference for an independent funding and financing review, which we expect to be completed later this year.
Subject to the outcome of this we will submit an updated strategic outline business case to the DfT, with a view to moving forward to the next stage of public consultation in 2019. Once we have feedback from the public, we will continue to develop our plans and prepare to submit a hybrid bill.
TfL thinks it will still be able to have Crossrail 2 services starting in the early to mid-2030s when crowding on the capital's transport network will be under severe pressure.
It already had to produce a revised business case and funding plan to government in October, after transport secretary Chris Grayling said last July that London had to meet half the costs of the project during construction, as opposed to over the lifetime of the project.
The proposed south east rail route would include a new north-south rail link across the capital, and TfL has said it is vital, as crowding is forecast to surge beyond current levels in the early 2030s with a number of Tube stations set to face serious operating difficulties.