HS3 ambitions may side-track Crossrail 2 plans in Spring Budget

Plans for London’s Crossrail 2 network may be at risk of being eclipsed by ambitions from northern cities for the east-west HS3 link, senior MPs from the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) of London have today warned.

It is anticipated that progress being made with Crossrail 2 could be delayed by prime minister Theresa May in response to claims from northern leaders that Whitehall is favouring rail infrastructure in the capital and is not serious about investment being made in transport in northern cities.

Bob Neill, MP for Bromley & Chislehurst, told RTM of the importance of MPs and central government backing Crossrail 2: “London’s economic health is important to the whole of the UK. Ultimately, when London succeeds, Britain prospers.

“We must therefore continue to invest in the infrastructure that keeps our capital moving, and Crossrail 2 – a proposal that has widespread support across the city – is central to those plans going forward.”

He added it is crucial, regardless of political persuasion, “MPs, business leaders and other stakeholders rally behind this project and make the case to ministers, loud and clear, that this is a vitally important scheme and one that must receive government backing. That is a message the APPG for London will continue to throw its full weight behind.”

In a report published by IPPR North in February, further evidence was put forward for HS3 closing the divide in infrastructure investment between the north and the south of the country. It also found that London alone received more than half of England’s £32.7bn transport spending.

But senior members from the APPG expressed concern that demands from northern leaders for funding to be put aside for HS3 may detract from London’s ambitions for Crossrail 2 by causing a conflict of interest between the capital and cities such as Manchester and Leeds.

This has prompted an appeal from London MPs to the PM and chancellor Phillip Hammond to fully support Crossrail 2 at the Spring Budget tomorrow, arguing that both projects can be successful at the same time and do not to be mutually exclusive.

These calls come just a few weeks after London mayor Sadiq Khan announced that the capital’s network would “grind to a halt” without Crossrail 2. He argued that, based on modelling by Transport for London, the city would struggle to cope with overcrowding should the government not back plans for Crossrail 2.

This was in response to claims from insiders who said that the government was “going cold” on the project – going on to suggest that half of the project’s £32bn price tag could be in jeopardy.

Commenting on Whitehall’s alleged reluctance to fully back Crossrail 2, Khan said: “Crossrail 2 is crucial. It’s crucial to meeting our ambitious targets for new affordable homes. It’s crucial to unlocking future economic growth in the aftermath of the EU referendum.

“It’s crucial to ensure that Euston station keeps running smoothly when HS2 opens, and it’s crucial if we are to prevent Waterloo, Victoria and many other stations from rush hour meltdown.

In last year’s Budget, former chancellor George Osborne gave the go-ahead to both HS3 and Crossrail 2, further backing the latter with £80m in funding.  

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Graham   07/03/2017 at 16:15

Just get on with it and stop wasting time and money both projects are needed and will benefit the country as a whole

Jimbo   07/03/2017 at 16:28

These projects should not be either/or as both are desperately needed, but it is worth pointing out that they are at different stages of development and so need funds for different things. Crossrail 2 has a (mostly) agreed solution and so it is time to finsh the consultancy and move onto initiating the implementation project, which is GRIP level 4 or 5 in Network Rail speak. This means big decisions about funding. HS3 is nothing more than an aspiration to link northern cities, so the next stage is to work up options and routes, which is GRIP level 1 or 2. This means a smaller amount of money to do consultancy. There are good reasons not to run these at the same stages in parallel, so starting the work on HS3 now fits in nicely.

J, Leicester   07/03/2017 at 16:57

HS3. Woodhead route. Tilting trains. Bam. High speed (compared to current journey times anyway) achieved - wouldn't even have to be ultra-high speed, just direct and with powerful trains to handle the gradients - y'know, the reason that route was electrified in the 1940s? Saves the government a fortune on the route procurement side which can be invested into Crossrail 2 and brings Manchester and Liverpool into the HS Rail equation without the daft concept of it being faster to travel down to Birmingham and back up again, which looks a possibility at present. You know it makes sense.

Melvyn   07/03/2017 at 17:18

Crossrail 2 was agreed to by former Chancellor George Osbourne on the basis that TFL/ Mayor of London raises at least 50% towards its cost . A deal which former TFL Chair Sir Peter Hendy felt was a fair deal and so I take it Northern authorities will raise a similar amounts towards HS3 ? Crossrail 2 still needs to be finally agreed and legislation passed to built it so serious spending is unlikely until the 2020s but there is no reason legislation can't move forward with decisions to build made by the government elected at the next election. In the meantime funding to upgrade the existing Broxbourne branch by four tracking and Station upgrades should go ahead as a precursor to Crossrail 2. As for HS3 it time to forget long outdated Woodhead route and create new Trans Pennines tunnels built to same size as on HS2 or even bigger if required to transport lorries across the Pennies on rail shuttles something that could be of great benefit during the winter .

Lutz   07/03/2017 at 22:08

Unfortunately the numbers have not been adding up for sometime around the funding for all the proposed projects to happen when originally intended, and it looks a decision has already been made. Not that HS3 amounts to anything more than pipe-dreams at the moment, but it is the rule of who shouts the loudest coming into play.

Simhedges   08/03/2017 at 08:34

London needs more transport infrastructure because it's full. So more infrastructure is built (tube upgrades, thameslink, crossrail), so more people come to live in London, so London needs more transport infrastructure. More transport for London, which has an overheating economy, is a short term solution that brings longer term problems. It's time to invest in the North, so that our country's economy is less unbalanced. Finish HS2, build HS3 (as a proper high speed line), extend HS2 to Scotland, and expand the Northern metros. It will be much better for the country as a whole than spending more on London.

JT   08/03/2017 at 10:32

I totally agree with Simhedges (who I think has made a similar point before). It would be a far more sensible solution to allow people to live and work in other parts of the country by investing there, rather than allow them to descend on London in droves, making current infrastructure issues worse and therefore demand even more investment. 'Build it and they will come' works in both cases!

Jimbo   08/03/2017 at 16:36

Unfortunately, it isn't as simple as that. London is categorised as an Alpha++ global city (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_city), only 1 of 2 in the world (the other being New York), so it is full of multi-national companies, and also full of local companies who deal with multi-national companies. If transport in London get so bad that those companies move out, they will move to Paris or Frankfurt, not Manchester or Leeds, not matter how good the transport in those cities. Of course, this doesn't mean we should invest in London at the expense of elsewhere, just that investment elsewhere will make little difference to the economy of London. We need to invest in more everywhere.

Manchester Mike   09/03/2017 at 14:20

Jimbo hits the nail on the head - London will forever be in a class of its own in Britain. It will need even more transport investment to compensate for the Brexit cockup.

Andrew Gwilt   11/03/2017 at 20:44

Crossrail 2 or so called to be named as "Chesney Line" will connect from the Southwest part to the Northeast part through Central London. And with future extensions also planned for Crossrail 2 such as the extension that will connect with the Central Line towards Woodford and Epping from Leytonstone as well a new portal to be constructed and the extension to New Southgate and possibly as far as Potters Bar. Extensions to parts of Southwest and South London areas including Twickenham, Richmond, Hampton Court, Chessington, Epsom, New Malden and Shepperton. And the extension heading northwards towards Harlow, Hertford East, Bishops Stortford and Stansted Airport and possibly as far as Cambridge.

Moomo   11/06/2017 at 21:56

The arguments put forward to prioritize Crossrail 2 are precisely the same arguments that have been used ad infinitum to justify decades of underinvestment in the north of England with the result that the UK is now one of the most unequal, unhappy and unstable countries in Europe. If Londoners didn't want Brexit, perhaps they should have allowed a little investment int' north. You reap as you sow.

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