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London mayor and businesses press for Crossrail 2 funds

The mayor of London announced the creation of a Crossrail 2 Growth Commission in an effort to maximise the benefits of the proposed new railway and call for government support.

This was just a few hours after the Times published an open letter from top business leaders urging the government to provide development funding essential to start works on Crossrail 2 in the early 2020s.

Crossrail 2 would link south-west and north-east London, and possibly stations in Surrey and Hertfordshire, with a core route linking Wimbledon with Tottenham and Barnet, via stations including Clapham Junction, Victoria, Tottenham Court Road, Euston and Angel.

502 1-Crossrail-Regional-Route

In the open letter, business leaders said: “Now that Crossrail, Europe’s largest engineering project, is nearing completion, on time and to budget, we must rapidly move forward with Crossrail 2.

“It will unlock land for up to 200,000 new homes, with a matching number of new jobs, adding up to £7.9bn a year to London’s economy and promoting growth nationally.”

Boris Johnson, MP for Uxbridge and mayor of London, backed them by insisting that the government should boost support for the scheme – especially with the new task force in place. He will press George Osborne to fund £250m in preparation for the project over the next five years.

Sir Merrick Cockell, former chair of the Local Government Association, was appointed chair of the new Growth Commission.

The commission aims to bring together London boroughs, county councils outside London and other business and development stakeholders to determine how the new railway can help create jobs and support housing developments.

According to a press release by Greater London Authority published today (17 July), tens of thousands of homes could be built in anticipation of the new connections the rail line would provide.

Johnson said: “Crossrail 2 will help realise London’s full economic potential, increasing the nation’s productivity and creating thousands of new jobs and homes.

“Major projects take time to plan and prepare and with Crossrail 1 nearing completion, we must move quickly to the next transformational growth project which could see even more benefits delivered.”

The mayor’s call came after a speech at the European HQ of Bloomberg during which he explained how the infrastructure project would be transformational and would accelerate housing development, particularly in deprived areas like Upper Lea Valley.

Crossrail 2 would also support engineering, construction and manufacturing sectors “with a supply chain stretching across the UK” according to the mayor’s press release.

Business leaders such as Simon Collins, chairman of KPMG, and Lord Mervyn Davies, chairman of Chime Communications, believe Crossrail 2 is crucial in the creation of more jobs and homes and should progress rapidly to support fast London growth.

Davies said: “It is vital that we increase the country’s productivity and with London growing rapidly we cannot afford to delay this transformational project. By supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs and homes, Crossrail 2 will drive the UK economy forward – that’s why we are calling for rapid progress to ensure that this essential new railway is ready for when we need it.”

Chris Curtis, head of the project at Network Rail, said: “The railways in London and the south east are already the busiest in the country, with many routes at or close to capacity, and growth continuing. As well as enabling economic growth in London and the south east, Crossrail 2 will help to relieve congestion and reduce overcrowding on busy routes into the capital from further afield.”

The mayor’s economic case to build the rail link across London is backed by numbers suggesting London’s population will top 10 million by 2030.

A PWC study published in 2014 showed that over half of the Crossrail 2 costs could be met by London using existing funding mechanisms. The new links between homes and jobs could also provide GVA benefits of up to £100bn, thus generating enough tax revenues to fund central government’s contribution.

A public consultation set for autumn will provide more information on the project, including locations for work sites and station entrances.

(Top image: library photo of Boris Johnson from a previous Crossrail 2 event)


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