Crossrail 2’s boss has urged the government to give a final decision on the £30bn project “pretty soon” to ensure the line can be built within the next 15 years.
Speaking at the London Infrastructure Summit yesterday, Michele Dix said the high-profile scheme is “on track” but warned over further delays.
Ms Dix is hoping to submit a hybrid bill and get Royal Assent for Crossrail 2 by the “early 2020s”, if the government signs off on it soon. This would allow the line to be built by the “early 2030s”, she added.
Doubts were raised about the government’s commitment to the project after it was omitted from the Tories’ pre-election manifesto and June’s Queen’s Speech.
But the project received a boost in July when transport secretary Chris Grayling gave it public backing.
“One of the reasons we want to get Crossrail 2 built is there is a huge challenge out there… despite all the work National Rail and TfL is doing,” Ms Dix said.
“We are on track but we need a decision pretty soon.”
Crossrail 2’s business case was submitted in March, but the general election held up a final decision.
London First chief executive Jasmine Whitbread reiterated calls for swift action on the project.
“The case for Crossrail 2 is proven,” she said. “London’s trains are the most over-crowded in our country and demand for rail services across London is only set to grow.”
Ms Whitbread pointed to the fact that HS2 will bring “tens of thousands” of extra passengers into London Euston.
She bemoaned the fact progress on the project has been slow, flagging the route has been in development since 1991.
Mr Grayling’s public backing of the project sparked anger in the north as it came just days after his department cancelled three rail electrification projects, away from the capital.
It also raised doubts about the government’s committment to other projects outside London, including the Northern Powerhouse. Mr Grayling has since given fresh backing to the Northern Powerhouse.
KPMG’s UK head of infrastructure Richard Threlfall told the conference: “This should not be a partisan battle [between the north and south], this should be about how we drive UK growth as a whole. We are not investing enough.”
Later he added: “Crossrail 2 is just a drop in the ocean. The real prize would a sustainable funding system for all of our infrastructure needs.”