Decisions on funding and the timetable for the £31bn Crossrail 2 project must be made by the end of this year, the chair of the National Infrastructure Commission has said.
Sir John Armitt called on the government to ensure funding plans and a project programme were agreed for what he described as one of the UK’s top-priority infrastructure projects.
Speaking today at the Transport Times’ UK Infrastructure Summit in Canary Wharf, Sir John said: “We want government to ensure the independent review of Crossrail 2’s affordability is completed as soon as possible, with a view to agreeing a timetable and funding proposal by the end of this year.”
In March, the government revealed it would be carrying out an independent affordability review looking into ways to make Crossrail 2 more financially viable.
The government currently expects 50 per cent of Crossrail 2’s construction costs to be privately funded.
Sir John said it was essential that the affordability review was concluded as soon as possible to ensure a hybrid bill could be submitted by the end of this parliament.
“After agreeing funding by the end of the year, the next stage of consultation should follow so the hybrid bill can be put forward in this parliament, with the overall aim of opening Crossrail 2 in early-to-mid-2030s,” he said.
“London is the engine of this country, and we’ve got to enable London to get better.”
The NIC chair, who took over from Lord Adonis earlier this year, said the delivery of projects across the country needed to be balanced and called for similarly swift action on the multi-billion-pound Northern Powerhouse Rail scheme.
He said: “In the immediate term it is important government sticks to the timetable for the TransPennine route, and reaches an agreement – ideally before the end of this year – on funding and a timetable for the Northern Powerhouse Rail network.
“Sorting out the improved connectivity between the North’s major cities and making it easier to travel across will bring massive growth to Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool and Sheffield – it is absolutely critical.”
Sir John listed Crossrail 2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail as two of his priority projects to progress in the coming years, with a third runway at Heathrow top of his list.
He said a decision on whether to build a new runway at Heathrow was nearly 20 years late.
“It has taken far too long to make a decision on the third runway,” he said.
“It has been 13 years since government’s statement of policy in favour of expansion at UK’s principal hub airport, and three years since the National Airports Commission’s recommendation for a third runway; we must make progress on that.”