Councils from across London and the South East have joined together to pledge their support for Crossrail 2 and urge the government to give the scheme its full backing.
Councils stretching from Cambridge to Portsmouth and London Councils, which represents London’s 32 borough councils and the City of London, have written to the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, and Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, to highlight the project’s importance to them, and to stress that the benefits of the railway would be felt nationwide.
Crossrail 2 will transform journey times and connectivity from the Solent to the Wash. It will relieve congestion on the overcrowded key rail lines from Portsmouth to Cambridge, and link with HS2 at Euston. It will also relieve pressure on the Underground.
The councils say that with the overcrowded rail network threatening to stunt economic growth, the dangers of delaying the project are clear. For commuters travelling into London, overcrowding is already “intolerable”, they say, and, without the additional capacity Crossrail 2 provides, stations including Waterloo, Clapham Junction and Euston will “simply buckle under the strain of chronic overcrowding”.
The letter also says that the new railway will bring economic benefits across the UK, boosting the country’s economy by up to £150bn, that it will support some 200,000 new homes and 200,000 jobs, and generate 60,000 supply chain jobs across the UK, including 18,000 apprentices. It will open up areas for growth and new jobs, including in the London-Stansted-Cambridge Corridor.
The letter is the latest in a series of support for Crossrail 2, following backing from more than 70 business leaders as well more than 60 leading figures from the property industry and housing associations.
London has already committed to meeting half the cost – unlike other nationally significant projects that do not receive such levels of local funding. But now the project needs a commitment from ministers.
Cllr Claire Kober, Chair of London Councils, said: “London Councils fully supports Crossrail 2 and it is crucial that government now demonstrates its commitment to the scheme. The project will provide a much-needed boost to business across the UK in an uncertain economic environment, and is vital to relieve pressure on London’s essential transport network, which is impacted by population growth. We look forward to seeing the plans given full backing by ministers.”
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “The support of local councils from Cambridge through to Portsmouth shows just how important Crossrail 2 is, not just to London but to the entire South East. It will provide much-needed relief for commuters who are forced to travel on overcrowded rail lines every single day, and unlock thousands of homes and jobs across the region. But Crossrail 2 is not just vital to the South East, its economic boost is vital to the whole of the UK. That’s why it’s so important that the government gives us its backing to proceed as soon as possible.”
TfL has submitted an updated business case and funding plan to the Transport Secretary, who is due to make a decision in the spring on further Government support. Construction could start in the early 2020s and the railway could be operational by 2033.