Crossrail 2 has been given a boost after getting backing from transport secretary Chris Grayling - the first time he has publically committed to the project, although he said he wanted to see whether London could fund half the £30bn project during construction.
Following talks last week with mayor of London Sadiq Khan, Grayling confirmed his support for Crossrail 2 and stressed there was “no doubt London needs new infrastructure to support its growth,” putting an end to fears over the project’s future after it was left out of the Conservatives’ election manifesto.
A spokesman for City Hall in London said the plan was to work towards the outline business case later in the autumn, with a view to going out to public consultation early next year. A hybrid Bill could be in parliament by 2020.
However, he sounded a cautious note over how the scheme will be paid for in a joint statement with Khan. More than 60% of funding for Crossrail 1 will come from businesses and ticket fares, but Grayling said London will need to pay for half of Crossrail 2 during construction.
“I am a supporter of Crossrail 2, but given its price tag we have to ensure that we get this right. 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,” he said.
“Following a successful outcome being reached I am keen to launch a fresh public consultation to help gather views to improve the scheme and clarify the position around the safeguarded route.”
Transport for London said it was “looking forward to the next steps” following the announcement, while Sadiq Khan stressed the importance of the project for London’s growth.
He said: “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.”
Grayling and Khan pledged to look at ways to improve cost projections for Crossrail 2, while learning lessons from Crossrail 1, before the autumn budget. Business groups have welcomed the confirmation from government on the project.
“With this joint statement, Crossrail 2 has moved forward - from whether we do it, to how we do it,” said London First infrastructure director David Leam.
“The government’s funding ambition is a challenging one but London business will play its part in developing an affordable funding package, as we did with Crossrail 1.”
Crossrail 2 managing director Michele Dix recently told delegates at New Civil Engineer’s transport conference that costs for the project would increase by almost £2bn for each year it was delayed.