Crossrail 2 Growth Commission announced

Business leaders have issued a call to Government to support the Mayor of London’s economic case for building Crossrail 2, as the Mayor announced the creation of the Crossrail 2 Growth Commission, and the appointment of Sir Merrick Cockell as the Commission’s Chairman.

In an open letter to the Times newspaper highlighting the importance of the new railway to the UK economy, business leaders called on the Government to use the current Comprehensive Spending Review to provide the development funding needed to start building Crossrail 2 early in the next decade.

Leading business figures like Simon Collins, UK Chairman of KPMG, and Lord Mervyn Davies, Chairman of Chime Communications, believe Crossrail 2 is vital to the creation of hundreds of thousands of jobs and homes, and argue rapid progress of the new rail link needs to be harnessed now to support growth in London, and across the UK.

The Mayor urged the Government to boost support for the scheme as he set out plans for the Crossrail 2 Growth Commission. The Commission will help maximise the benefit of the new railway by bringing together the London boroughs, county councils outside London and other key business and development stakeholders along the route to work together on how the railway can best support housing and job creation.

Tens of thousands of homes could be built ahead of opening in anticipation of the improved connectivity, helping to meet the demands of a rapidly growing population. By 2030 it is expected that the population of London alone will have risen by 1.4 million people – from 8.6 million today to 10 million – rising to 11 million by 2050.

Mayor of London, Boris Johnson MP, 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. Crossrail 2 will support up to 200,000 more homes and jobs, adding billions of pounds to the national economy and ensuing a prosperous future for the whole country.”

The call came as the Mayor gave a speech at the European HQ of business specialists Bloomberg, setting out how Crossrail 2 can be a transformational infrastructure project that will maximise the country’s economic growth. Crossrail 2 will enable and accelerate the development of much needed new housing, helping regenerate some of the UK’s most deprived areas including the Upper Lea Valley.

The Mayor says that capacity of the rail network is already under pressure, particularly the lines into Waterloo, and the rail network there will soon be full. He believes that without investment in Crossrail 2, not only would growth be hindered but it would not address the severe capacity constraints that occur on the network that commuters suffer from today.

The construction of Crossrail 2 could support around 60,000 full time jobs in addition to the 18,000 who will be employed directly during the peak of construction and over 1,300 new jobs that will be created to operate Crossrail 2.

Once operational, Crossrail 2 will allow more people to access jobs, supporting the creation of up to 200,000 new jobs, both locally and in London’s highly productive central area.

A PWC study published in 2014 said that at least half the cost of Crossrail 2 can be met by London. By linking homes and jobs Crossrail 2 could deliver net additional GVA benefits – the value of goods and services produced – totalling up to £100bn, generating tax revenues that are more than sufficient to fund central Government’s contribution, says the Mayor.

The revenues to the exchequer are forecast to include higher Stamp Duty receipts of at least £20bn – both the stamp duty paid on sale and resale the additional homes unlocked, and as a consequence of Crossrail 2’s impact on the values of existing homes along the line of the route.

Lord Mervyn Davies, Chairman of Chime Communications 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 that this essential new railway is ready for when we need it.”

The establishment of the Commission at this early stage of the development of Crossrail 2 will, the Mayor hopes, ensure that plans for local development can be aligned with the route of the railway and that any changes to the project can be made without significant abortive costs. The Commission will report in Spring 2016.

Sir Merrick Cockell, Chairman of the Crossrail 2 Growth Commission, said: “I am delighted to be appointed as the Chairman of the Crossrail 2 Growth Commission. This new railway is imperative to the future growth of the Capital and across the UK and the Growth Commission will play a key role in helping ensure local development plans along the route meet their full potential.”

The new high frequency, high capacity rail line is designed to address capacity constraints as well as providing new connections across the Capital, supporting the UK’s single largest employment area. The new rail line will create additional capacity, transporting up to 270,000 people into central London in the morning peak, and relieve congestion across the existing rail network by running services through a new tunnel under London.

Michele Dix, TfL’s Managing Director for Crossrail 2, said: “Crossrail 2 is an essential piece of national infrastructure, which will relieve pinch points on national rail and Tube networks, unlocking jobs, homes and growth. The wider economic returns of Crossrail 2 will help secure London’s economic potential and will generate tax revenues that will pay back the investment many times over.”

Chris Curtis, Head of Crossrail 2 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.”

A public consultation will begin in the autumn, providing more information on the scheme including locations for work sites and station entrances.

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