Former transport secretary Lord Adonis has said “there is no good reason to delay” Crossrail 2 and has called for a business case to be submitted for the project within the next 12 months.
Launching the National Infrastructure Commission’s report on London transport today, Lord Adonis warned that “the capital will grind to a halt” unless more investment was made, including bringing forward the proposed north-south commuter line.
The report, the second of three to be published by the NIC ahead of next week’s Budget, said a revised business case should be submitted by March 2017 to prepare the way for a hybrid bill by autumn 2019.
It said this timeline would allow Crossrail 2 to open in 2033.
The commission also called for the government to release “sufficient development funds” to enable the business case to be progressed.
As Construction News revealed this week, Crossrail 2 is likely to face a battle with Northern Powerhouse rail projects for £300m of transport development funding set to be handed out by the chancellor next week.
On the funding for the expected £33bn cost of the project, the commission said London businesses and taxpayers should contribute at least half, while a plan should also be developed to maximise private sector involvement.
Speaking at the launch, however, Lord Adonis added that the project would not go ahead unless costs were kept under control and said lessons must be learned from the original Crossrail line.
“It’s critical that we’re not sitting here in 35 years talking about it and duplicating the mistakes of Crossrail delays,” he said.
He added: “By the 2030s London will be a megacity of more than 10m people. Even allowing for planned investment and the imminent arrival of Crossrail, the capital will grind to a halt unless significant further improvements are made.
“That’s why London needs Crossrail 2 as quickly as possible. A new north-east to south-west line would help relieve severe overcrowding across some of the busiest Network Rail stations in the country, and the most congested underground lines and overground commuter routes.
“The commission has identified four crucial ways in which the scheme can be developed to ensure we maximise benefits and increase deliverability: phasing parts of the scheme, fair funding with London paying more than half the cost, private financing to help build stations and, crucially, a clear, transformative strategy to turn the proposed 200,000 new homes into a reality.
“There is no good reason to delay. Crossrail 2 will help keep London moving, create hundreds of thousands of homes and fire regeneration across the city from north-east to south-west. We should get on with it right away, and have the line open by 2033.”
While the commission recommended that Crossrail 2 should be at the heart of a new London Plan, it also backed other transport infrastructure schemes for the capital.
Other recommended projects include Thames crossings further east and the extension of the Bakerloo line, with the commission saying these could be funded through “alternative financing mechanisms”.
Responding to the recommendations, London First infrastructure director David Leam said: “Now we need the chancellor to extend his support beyond warm words and actually write a cheque to develop the scheme further.
“The business world was a major contributor to the original Crossrail and accepts the need to contribute similarly to help Crossrail 2 get the green light.”