Crossrail 2 project chiefs are in a race against time to get vital planning powers in place before the general election.
Transport for London (TfL) Crossrail 2 head of scheme development Sarah Johnson admitted it would be “tight” to get the proposed route safeguarded before purdah begins next month.
Safeguarding – which effectively protects land from development for other uses – has been in place for a Chelsea to Hackney line since 1991. But the project promoters, which include mayor of London Boris Johnson, TfL and Network Rail, last autumn chose a different regional route for Crossrail 2.
This includes sections of underground and overground railway running from Alexandra Palace and Cheshunt to Epsom, Surbiton and Twickenham.
A 10-week consultation into the proposal to safeguard this new route closed at the end of January, but attracted some opposition.
Parliament dissolves on 30 March ahead of the nation going to the polls on 7 May, and political decisions are generally banned during the ‘purdah’ period between these dates.
Sarah Johnson said at an event organised by business group London First last week: “In terms of safeguarding, we’ve been working with the Department for Transport to update the route, so that the Chelsea-Hackney route is effectively replaced by this route.
“It’s really vital that we get that safeguarding in place to protect the potential route from development that could become a constraint to building the railway in the future.
“We are in the process of going through some of the responses to the consultation with the Department. We are working such that the new safeguarding arrangements can come in to force in advance of the general election.
“It is a bit of a tight timescale but we very much hope that we can get that in place before the end of March.”
She added: “The consultation process has raised a number of concerns, particularly from individual residences and small businesses along the route.
“To some extent this safeguarding process is the first they’ve really heard about Crossrail 2, and we’ve got a lot of work to do over the coming months to bring those people with us so they can all support this project as well.”
Crossrail 2 would include almost twice as much tunnelling as Crossrail 1, as well as 11 new underground stations.
Construction could begin in 2020, with the line open to the public a decade later. The cost of the scheme has been estimated at about £20bn.
Transport for London earlier this year gave four consortiums specific roles to play on the proposed line.
Arcadis Hyder, working in partnership with Weston Williamson, Vinci Construction, Interfleet, First Class Partnerships and Dr Sauer & Partners, will be responsible for engineering and technical aspects of the design.
CH2MHill and Atkins will take on strategic modelling, route development, planning, appraisal and evaluation.
Mott MacDonald, Temple Group, ERM and WSP will look after environment and sustainability.
Aecom, Weston Williamson and Turkington Martin are in charge of town planning, economic development, socio-economics and urban design.
London First chief executive Baroness Jo Valentine said in January: “Crossrail 2 will be a game changer that will bring huge benefits to London, the South East and the UK.
“It will provide new homes and jobs across the region, and improve the quality of life for people travelling in and around London.
“As Crossrail 1 has shown, we have world class capability when it comes to planning and delivering this sort of project. We need Crossrail 2, we have the skill to build it, now we need to get on with it.”