Procurement for Crossrail 2 could get under way in 2018 provided a funding agreement is reached later this year, according to Transport for London’s managing director for planning.
Michèle Dix said a leadership team for the London rail link would be put together “within the year”, once a funding package for the £20bn line has been negotiated.
Ms Dix said procurement would take place starting in 2018 and that contracts would be awarded by 2019, with TfL intending to reconfirm the safeguarded route by the end of 2014.
Speaking at the same event, mayor of London Boris Johnson described Crossrail 2 as “well advanced in planning” and said “we can do it by 2029”.
Balfour Beatty construction chief executive Nick Pollard said a strong leadership team was needed to take the scheme forward.
Speaking at a London First event, Mr Pollard said: “We need a leadership team up and running and breeding confidence. I would like to see a team there owning, developing and taking the business case forward.”
He added that the leadership of Andrew Wolstenholme and Sir Terry Morgan on Crossrail, and Sir John Armitt and Lord Deighton on the Olympics, were crucial to the successful delivery of those progammes.
Asked whether construction of Crossrail 2 should immediately follow Crossrail, Mr Pollard said there would be a number of benefits to doing so, and it would speed up delivery of the project.
“It would reduce the end cost and mitigate risk,” he said. “If we make a modest investment now and press on, there is no reason why we could not be on site in 2015/16 for initial works.
“The way to mitigate risk is to engage industry earlier in the process, engage contractors earlier in the process and procure work earlier,” he added.
Meanwhile the government announced last week that Crossrail will be extended to Reading.
The extension will see Crossrail now stop at existing stations at Twyford and Reading.
London’s east-west rail line, which is under construction, will now serve a total of 40 stations along the entire route when it opens fully in 2019.
The Reading extension will mean a reduced need for infrastructure enhancements at Maidenhead and Slough, and only minor works will be required at Twyford and Reading to accommodate Crossrail services.
A Costain joint venture with Hochtief was awarded an £80m contract to redevelop Reading Station in 2011, as part of Network Rail’s £850m project to transform Reading’s railway system.
Vinci won a Network Rail deal, estimated to be worth £100m, to design and upgrade 13 stations on the western section of Crossrail’s Acton Main Line to Maidenhead in October 2013.
Balfour Beatty won a £64m deal at the same time to install electric overhead line equipment on a 12.5-mile section of the Great Western Main Line between Stockley Junction and Maidenhead across all tracks.