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Northern uproar as Grayling backs Crossrail 2 after ditching electrification

Transport secretary Chris Grayling has this week publicly put his backing behind Crossrail 2.

In a joint statement from Grayling and mayor of London Sadiq Khan, it was revealed that the pair agreed that the capital needed new infrastructure to ensure its growth as the UK’s economic powerhouse.

But mayors in the north have reacted angrily to the news, arguing that funding needed to be balanced throughout the country, especially following the recent news that three electrification projects would be cut by DfT.

“I am a supporter of Crossrail 2 but given its price tag we have to ensure that we get this right,” Grayling said. “The mayor and I have agreed to work together on it over the coming months to develop plans that are as strong as possible, so that the public gets an affordable scheme that is fair to the UK taxpayer.”

And Khan added: “Crossrail 2 is essential for the future prosperity of London and the south-east, so I’m pleased that the transport secretary and I have reached an agreement to take this vital project forward.

“We will continue to work together to ensure the project is value for money and provides the maximum benefits for jobs and growth in the region over the coming decades. I look forward to moving to the next stage of consultation.”

The project has been backed by the mayor and London councils in the past, as well as passenger watchdog London TravelWatch, which said that the success of the project was “vital” to future prosperity in the capital.

But in a poll of RTM readers in May, it was revealed that the majority of people felt that HS3 in the north should be prioritised over plans for Crossrail 2.

Burnham: East to west transport should be highest priority

This was a view that was, unsurprisingly, shared by mayor of Manchester Andy Burnham and mayor of Liverpool City Region Steve Rotheram.

Reacting to news that Grayling had publicly announced his intention to push forward with Crossrail 2, Burnham told BBC Newsnight that the scheme was not in the Conservative manifesto, and should not have been “pushed to the front of the queue” ahead of key electrification works across the country.

“The government would be making a major mistake if it underestimated the fury that people here feel when they see those announcements last week and then they hear today that billions more is about to be spent on London,” he said.

“Many people in our country see west to east transport as the highest priority. But all of this was announced since Parliament closed.

“I would love to see Grayling announce in Parliament the scrapping of multiple electrification schemes alongside the green light for Crossrail 2. If he had done that there would have been uproar.”

The mayor of Manchester concluded that MPs now need to seek a vote when the House returns to see if MPs agree that this is the best way to proceed with rail investment in our country.

Rotheram also claimed that the announcement came as a “bit of a surprise” seeing as it had not been included in the party manifesto.

“I do not begrudge infrastructure investment in London and the south east, but what is needed is balanced investment in infrastructure to support growth in the north as well,” he continued. “Rebalancing the UK economy was recognised in both major party manifestos in the recent General Election but this cannot be achieved without the north receiving its fair slice of the transport cake.

“Sadly, the juxtaposition of last week’s cancellation of northern rail electrification schemes and this week’s green light for Crossrail 2 suggests it is just going to be business."

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Samir Kahn   25/07/2017 at 12:03

We need a full review of political party funding to understand these rail decisions, It will soon be quicker to travel from Liverpool to Hull via HS2 and London than take a direct train. Cambridge to Birmingham is almost faster via London and the North West to East Anglia service is faster via London. London needs more infrastructure because the rest of the country is falling apart, why is investment and building not put where it is needed? I think we need to look at the constant need to keep the London real estate market moving and political party funding

Guyf   25/07/2017 at 12:04

It's not a major surprise, despite London having the only viable public transport network in the UK he still found it too hard to travel the 17 miles from home to parliament without having a flat in Pimlico paid for by us. This is clearly a cost saving exercise for the tax payer.

Jimbo   25/07/2017 at 12:05

As always, just politicians trying to make points. The development of the Crossrail2 project has been largely funded by TfL and has been taken the best part of 10 years. TfL is expected to pay for around half of the project, with the rest from government, but that is still to be agreed. So if the mayors of Manchester and Liverpool want to fund the development of rail projects in their areas, and are willing to partially fund their implementation, the government will look at them and make a decision, but at the moment, there is nothing more than aspirations and name calling. So stop whining about about the spreading rail investment across the country, and instead put together properly costed plans and made your business case so compelling that the government will have no choice to approve it.

Gabriel Oaks   25/07/2017 at 12:30

Whilst I can understand the anger from those outside London there is a perspective of the need for a new railway line being built over and above much needed investment to improve existing railway lines. Notwithstanding this point, Government policy on rail is neither clear or transparent and should be held to greater public scrutiny and ultimately account.

Joe Buckley   25/07/2017 at 13:21

All the London infrastructure projects need to be put on hold until we know where Brexit is going. It seems like anything up to 100,000 jobs could be lost in the financial and connected sector, which will both reduce the need for infrastructure and the money available to pay for it. Back in the 1980's it was decided to focus the economy on finance and services and away from manufacturing. That prioritized London at the expense of other regions. If the government really plans (who knows) to reverse this, infrastructure in the North should have a much higher priority.expenditure

South East Retired Traveller   25/07/2017 at 16:59

Crossrail2 should be re-planned - it omits the Royal Albert Hall and goes again to stations already totally overcrowded, NEW London routes are needed not line duplication. Congestion in SE & London far worse than in the North - they do not need intensive services, and could easily accept older stock refurbished to operate LOCAL services. Far too many MPs for small population in the north, in the south single MPs with millions of voters. That needs to be addressed. Oh - and CROSSRAIL1 MUST HAVE TOILETS ADDED. Khan needs to use the trains, not have taxis

Disgruntled Person   25/07/2017 at 18:10

Why,As a nation,are we always looking at the dearest option and funding that.namely HS2. Surely a much better and cheaper option would be a major upgrade of the East Coast Main Line. Allowing trains to run at higher speeds with fewer stops would more than cater for the journey between London and the North. As a country we only have so much spare land and that is fast running out.

Graham Nalty   25/07/2017 at 19:12

South East Retired Traveller is right to point out that the Albert Hall is omitted. If any part of London needs a station with connectivity in all 4 points of the compass it is the Albert Hall.

Simon Eames1990   25/07/2017 at 22:48

I am in for Crossrail 2 as will benefit my area in North London but I feel sorry the North as they deserve better services and getting rid of those rotten pacers(as they will be withdrawn by 2019). Crossrail 2 shouldn't be blamed for cancelling northern uprades it's HS2 to blame!

Andrew Gwilt   26/07/2017 at 01:17

Chris Grayling is becoming just like Richard Beeching. Axing the electrification scheme. And now he has backed Crossrail 2. I hate this man for no reason. Jeremy Corbyn would of kept the electrification going if he took charge as PM.

Splinter   26/07/2017 at 07:55

I'm not certain that this is a done deal. Knowing how much May relies on the DUP, a few rebel Tory MPs could change Grayling's mind. Lets see what happens when parliament returns after the summer.

Steve B Collins   26/07/2017 at 17:55

Mishearing has led to people incorrectly saying "should of" when the correct form is "should have". The reason is that in the shortened form of "should've" the " 've" is misheard as "of".

Dunnyrail   27/07/2017 at 08:03

Crossrail 2 and indeed 1 The Elizabeth Line should both have been up and running some 3-4 years ago. Typical Of this Country that we spend years of Consultation (and Millions of costs) to get nothing done yet Road projects (look at the A14 diversion at 1.5 Billion) get approved and built making Rail options even less viable. Had CR2 already been built the arguments about East West lines would have been won by now and be in the build phase. STOP all new Road projects and get on with Rail, after all by 2040 Road will be a dead end because Battery Cars will not be able to take over due to the Environmental concerns of all the used Batteries, not to mention the difficulties of charging them. JonD

Simhedges   27/07/2017 at 08:14

"Surely a much better and cheaper option would be a major upgrade of the East Coast Main Line. Allowing trains to run at higher speeds with fewer stops would more than cater for the journey between London and the North. As a country we only have so much spare land and that is fast running out." - By this logic, we don't need Crossrail 2, because there are already fast rail lines to 'the South'. ECML does not run to Birmingham, Sheffield or Manchester.

Frustrated Frequent Norther Rail User   27/07/2017 at 23:16

Government says diesel cars are polluting and must be banned by 2040 and replaced by electric cars. But on the railways government says electrification is being abaondoned in favour of diesel hybrid trains. Talk about hypocrisy.

Lutz   28/07/2017 at 03:20

HS3 was dropped prior to March 2016; The TfN proposals are to be based around the 'NPR'. It is the DfT that has to allocate available Tax Payer funds where there are needed and provide the best return. Both of the Mayors know, as does everyone else that follows events, that TfN is still working on it's proposals so it is too soon for decisions and funding to be determined. What we do have is two Mayors jockeying for future leadership of the Labour Party.

John   19/08/2017 at 10:02

@Lutz "What we do have is two Mayors jockeying for future leadership of the Labour Party." Are you kidding?

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