TfN CEO on Crossrail 2 competition: ‘London can flourish, but we want to turbocharge investment’

The chief executive of Transport for the North (TfN) has quelled concerns that funding for the programme would be in conflict with Crossrail 2, claiming that the raising of funds through general taxation will help to finance both projects.

Speaking at a Northern Powerhouse event in Manchester on Friday, Barry White said TfN will say “in a very positive way” that London, which remains important for the UK economy, can continue to flourish, but the north needs to accelerate and “turbocharge” investment in the region.

The cost and completion estimations for Crossrail 2— which currently stands to cost around £30bn, and be completed in the early 2030s— will be heavily scrutinised after its older sibling, Crossrail 1, announced in August that the £15.4bn project would be opening nine months late in Autumn 2019. Following the government’s £350m government lifeline announced on Friday to prevent further delays in Crossrail 1, many will be cautious that funding for Crossrail 2 does not detract from resources dedicated to northern transport.

“As to whether NPR is in competition with Crossrail 2: no—but we have to make the case in the north,” said White. “We want to say in a very positive way that London can continue to flourish, that’s important for the UK economy, but we want the north to accelerate and turbocharge this investment—so we’ll make the case for our best in a positive way, and actually we believe that we will successfully do it.

“Crossrail 2 costs, which are expected to be around £30bn, half of that is going to be funded locally, because it’s largely an urban service. So £15bn of general taxation will go to local contribution taxation,” he added.

Earlier this month, managing director of Crossrail 2 at TfL Dr Michele Dix said that she “wished it [Crossrail 2] was cheaper,” and pledged to lower costs and make the scheme more affordable.

At TransCityRail 2018, Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham said that the north of England needs to move to “the front of the queue” for prioritisation of transport investment.

“NPR is the biggest priority for changing the economy of the north,” continued White. “It will improve people’s life opportunities, but it will also improve the outlook for businesses in terms of accessing skills. We’re jointly developing it with the DfT, looking to connect six city regions: Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Hull, Sheffield, and Newcastle, in a way that gets the capacity, reliability, and the speed that just isn’t available at the moment.”

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