Crossrail 2: a transformational project

Michèle Dix CBE, managing director of Crossrail 2, explains why the rail link is a scheme the whole country should support.

Crossrail 2 is a critical rail project for London and the south east, and is needed by the 2030s. We have submitted a revised business case to the transport secretary and, subject to the government’s decision, hope to move forward with more detailed design work and a hybrid bill submission in 2019. 

The project will link national rail networks in Surrey and Hertfordshire with a twin-bore, 37km tunnel under London, running from Wimbledon in the south west to Tottenham Hale and New Southgate in the north east. It will build on the success of Crossrail, but it is both longer and planned with greater ambition for London and the south east’s future growth. If construction starts in the early 2020s, it could be operating by the early 2030s. 

It is also vital for the region’s transport capacity. London’s population is already at a historic high of 8.6 million and projected to grow to 10 million by 2030. Even with planned Tube and rail upgrades, Crossrail  and Thameslink, that growth will put huge pressure on an already crowded network. TfL’s projection is that there will be severe crowding on large sections of the Tube, and regular station closures, without Crossrail 2. 

Transforming connectivity 

Crossrail 2 will ease that pressure by adding extra capacity to the capital’s rail network, some 10% to lines into central London, with 30 trains per hour in the central core. It will enable 270,000 more passengers to travel across London during the peak period.

It will transform connectivity both in London and in the wider south east. For example, it will take pressure off the South West Main Line, freeing up space for more long-distance regional trains from Southampton and Portsmouth. Even now, the line is operating at capacity, with many passengers standing from as far out as Winchester all the way into Waterloo. 

Overall, it will create journey-time savings across a wide swathe of southern England from the Solent to the Wash. In addition, it will support HS2 phase 2, which when it opens in the early 2030s will bring many more passengers into Euston. It will have similar benefits for the Cambridge-Stansted corridor to the north, with four-tracking to Broxbourne creating new capacity. 

Crossrail 2 will also drive growth, supporting jobs and unlocking new housing. It is routed through the Upper Lea Valley, one of London’s most deprived areas, in order to kick-start growth and open up this huge housing opportunity area. There and elsewhere, Crossrail 2 will, in total, unlock 200,000 additional new homes, and it will support 200,000 new jobs. It will also boost the UK economy – up to £150bn – with additional tax revenues five times the costs of the scheme. 

Fivefold return on its investment 

As such, with local funding streams supported by businesses covering half of the costs, additional national tax revenues make the scheme very affordable.

Nevertheless, we are exploring further funding sources. The uplift in land values that Crossrail 2 will deliver are estimated at £60bn. As announced in the Budget, the GLA/TfL will work with government to pilot how we can further capture more of this value. 

And we will continue to reduce the cost of the scheme. More than £10bn of the total scheme cost, £31.2bn, is ‘optimism bias’, which, through more detailed design, we aim to reduce. We will also reduce pressure on the public purse by looking at opportunities for private sector funding – for example for stations and rolling stock. 

Crossrail 2 is a transformational project that will benefit the whole country. Around 40% of transport benefits and more than 30% of new housing will fall outside London. It will support 60,000 supply chain jobs from the south west to Scotland. It will give employers the confidence to boost and upskill their workforce. It will generate a fivefold return on its investment. 

With London committed to directly funding half and indirectly generating more than the other half in additional revenues for the Exchequer, this is a scheme the country should support.

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John Gilbert   10/05/2017 at 01:08

Doubtless Crossrail 2 is important to London, but since there is only a certain amount of money available from the Government these days then, once Crossrail 1 is complete, funds must be switched to Northern electrification. Of course if BOTH can proceed simultaneously all well and good, but I do not think this is likely these days. London has had enough of the limited cash for a good many years and it is time the North and Midlands had their fair share.

Mack   12/05/2017 at 16:27

@ John That ignores the fact that London is paying into its transport projects while the Northern projects require 100% Governmental funding that comes in part from London putting more into the economy than it takes. Something that if things like Crossrail 2 doesn't happen will no longer happen and both the South East (which what what you are actually talking about when you typed London) and North will suffer as a result of self interest that ignores the reality. The South-east is the UK powerhouse, simply starving it reduces the money available so other areas cannot make up the difference. And neither will this change change as London holds a special place internationally that makes business want to be there (despite the damage that Brexit will do). If you want the Northern electrification full scheme then Crossrail 2 is critical to generating the money to fund this. After all, London is taxing itself to pay for these investments, where is the North's? Oh yes it votes against such actions. London knows it needs to fund these project more and more itself and knows it can fund at least 50% of Crossrail 2 already and is looking at funding more via new or improved methods. Placing orders within the UK supply change means these orders will only further increase the valve of the project to the UK as a whole. So while people seem to confuse where the work is done, this is not always where the benefit is going to be seen nor where the benefits can, and should, be spread to.

A Passenger   03/08/2017 at 13:01

As a passenger, by accident, i have found this site fascinating and educational. Can i ask a stupid question, which has probably been thought about and rejected? I can see some reasons, why rail projects are not like motorway ones, which are incremental with bits being added and the network being extend. I am sure it has been considered and dismissed, but could this approach be used for Crossrail 2? Can someone please explain why it would not make sense to build Crossrail 2 in increments? First concentrate resources to build lines linking the HS1 line to Euston and Victoria. Then, say, half the trains from Essex turning to go to Victoria and half the train from the west going to Euston. Further extensions could be completed until it made sense to run a north – south service. With resources being concentrated on these short extensions, a service and some financial returns would be achieved earlier than waiting for the entire line to be completed.

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