Crunch talks to decide the future of a proposed new Crossrail station for Kensington are due to begin next week, NCE has learned.
The Department for Transport is to meet with Kensington & Chelsea Council to decide whether there is merit in creating a station in Kensal, north Kensington to aid regeneration.
But Crossrail chief executive Rob Holden last week warned that such a decision would have to be taken immediately.
“If anything is to happen there, it has to happen very quickly. Certainly Kensington and Chelsea are aware of that and there are meetings scheduled later this month to progress that issue and hopefully bring it to a very early conclusion,” he told a meeting with the London Assembly.
Kensington & Chelsea Council began its late bid last September, arguing that a Crossrail turnback facility was already being built in the borough and that a station would not create much additional work (NCE 24 September 2009).
The 118km long railway linking areas east and west of London will run overground through Kensington.
The council claimed that a new station on the 17ha site would be critical to plans for widespread regeneration in the area.
London mayor Boris Johnson visited the site in December and transport minister Sadiq Khan is due to view it this month.
“From our point of view, our scope is frozen.”
Terry Morgan, Crossrail
Holden said support for the station from Johnson would depend on whether it would disrupt the project or increase construction costs.
“Recently the mayor has said that consideration would be given to those proposals, providing they don’t add to the cost [to the public], they don’t delay the Crossrail project schedule and they don’t degrade either the proposed Crossrail services or any other rail services on those lines, he said.
“They are very important criteria and together they will be a stiff hurdle to overcome. But it’s right that any further proposal are considered against any criteria like that.”
However, this week there remained confusion over who would take the lead in making a decision about whether to add a new station.
Crossrail chairman Terry Morgan told the London Assembly meeting that Crossrail was focused on building the accepted route and that the project sponsors − Transport for London (TfL) and the Department for Transport − would have to lead on any changes.
But a TfL spokesman said changes to the route remained within the remit of its subsidiary Crossrail.
Morgan said that he considered the scope of the project to have been fixed.
“From our point of view, our scope is now frozen. And clearly if there are further changes requested we will look at them but that’s got to be a decision made by the sponsors,” he said.
“If there is a further change then we have to look at it in terms of whether there’s a consequence and if there is a consequence − on time or funding − that those decisions are understood before we’re asked to consider those in the context of what we’re doing.”
A Crossrail spokesman confirmed to NCE that it had been working closely with Network Rail on the issues surrounding building a station in north Kensington. He said Network Rail was due to produce a report shortly and that discussions with Kensington & Chelsea Council officials could potentially go ahead in the next couple of weeks.
At the Assembly meeting Holden also played down suggestions that stations east of Canary Wharf to Abbey Wood could be axed to keep the project within budget. “Clearly sponsors looking at the scope will look at that as an option if there are issues. At the moment all I can say is that as a project we are firmly committed to delivering a railway which goes out to Abbey Wood.”
Morgan added that Crossrail had safeguarded a new route beyond Abbey Wood to the high speed rail interchange at Ebbsfleet, Kent.