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London businesses endorse calls for ‘Crossrail for the North’

London business leaders have this week firmly put their support behind ‘Crossrail for the North’ and said the government should seriously explore the project.

A statement from the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) admitted that travelling in the north was a “tortuous, time-consuming experience” and that improved travel in the region needed to be seen as a top future priority by the government.

The LCCI added that it still wanted Crossrail 2 to be progressed, but stated that this did not necessarily mean an improved East-West rail link in the north should not also be delivered.

It comes after a summer of intense debate between government and northern transport leaders. Think tank IPPR North started a petition to press the government for Crossrail North to rebalance the ‘scandal’ of rail underfunding.

The mayors of Greater Manchester and Liverpool City Region Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram also reacted angrily when transport secretary Chris Grayling publicly gave his support to Crossrail 2 after cutting plans for three important electrification projects in England.

“London is heading towards megacity status with 10 million people by 2030, and while we seek the right infrastructure here, it is important that the rest of the country continues to grow as well,” said Sean McKee, policy director of LCCI.

“At present, cross-country travelling between the great northern cities of Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield is a tortuous, time consuming experience. That is not good for business or Britain.”

McKee also argued that these northern cities had a collective population of 9 million – similar to London’s population, and that these people deserved decent, modern transport as much as people living in the capital.

“It is interesting to note that the distance between Leeds and Liverpool is roughly the same as the whole length of London Underground’s Central Line – yet that northern journey can sometimes nearly take double the time,” he added.

“LCCI is happy to endorse previous calls for a ‘Crossrail of the North’. The proposed cross-Pennine plans involve tunnelling – and the skills and experience from the new Elizabeth Line/Crossrail project in London could be put to good use to deliver practical connectivity.”

The LCCI director made it clear that the organisation still wanted Crossrail 2, but stated that with the UK going into a post-Brexit future, the economy will be much stronger if opportunities for jobs and future growth were created beyond the capital.

“London’s ‘Crossrail 2’ and a ‘Crossrail North’ could be given the green light to proceed together – helping create the environment to compete and seize new economic opportunities,” he concluded.

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Andrew Gwilt   15/09/2017 at 16:26

Crossrail 2 will only extend as far as Broxbourne, Cheshunt, High Barnet in north London, northeast London and South Hertfordshire and parts of North Surrey, southwest London and south London. Plus with the extension to Epping in West Essex via Leytonstone (sharing tracks with the Central Line).

Lutz   15/09/2017 at 20:28

They do not know yet what is being proposed: TfN still to finalise initial proposals for NPR, only then will there be anything to assess.

Anominous Guest   15/09/2017 at 23:48

I agree with Lutz.

Chrism   16/09/2017 at 01:53

We need to see if investment will be available to meet the NPR journey time aspirations, some of which would be a huge improvement over today (for example Liverpool to Manchester in 20 minutes). However that means lots of expensive new build railways as well as using some of the new HS2 route. Will this government commit to funding tens of billions?

Noam Bleicher   16/09/2017 at 09:09

It's about time we had a grown up debate about Crossrail 2 and HS3, rather than the stale north vs south one we have at the moment. London businesses are pointing out that we need both, and that London benefits from a prosperous north. The same is true the other way round of course. The north benefits from a prosperous London. It particularly benefits from the direct escalator link between HS1 and HS2 that Crossrail 2 will provide.

Martin   16/09/2017 at 12:29

'The distance between Leeds and Liverpool is roughly the same as the whole length of....the Central Line' According to the GB Rail Timetable, Leeds to Liverpool is 77.5 miles and takes 1 hour 48 minutes. Epping to West Ruislip is 33.9 miles (the longest LU journey possible without a change) takes 1 hour 26 minutes.

Chrism   16/09/2017 at 19:05

IIRC the distance from Liverpool Lime St to Leeds via Manchester Victoria is 75.8 miles and the weekday 12 minutes past TPE train takes 1 hour 28 minutes. This is obviously a lot quicker than the Central Line tube, although it is still slower than many steam-age trains were before World War 2.

John   24/09/2017 at 16:28

@Chrism TfN want a new line from Liverpool to Manchester. There are many reasons for this: 1. The expanded port of Liverpool needs the rail capacity to cope with 20,000 container holding ships. 2. The needs a link onto HS2, and the same new line can do that. Any new west to east line needs the Liverpool section complete first, as cheaper transport costs from the port of Liverpool is essential for trade.

John   25/09/2017 at 11:52

Virgin Trains recently announced record numbers of passengers travelling between London and Liverpool. 1.77 million passenger journeys in 2016-17, which proved HS2 Ltd's projections totally off mark. HS2’s predicted Liverpool would reach this level in a further 10 years. The city needs to be on HS2 more than any other provincial city.

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