London Underground (LU) programme director for Crossrail and stations Miles Ashley has warned of “dark consequences” if there was a failure to continue investing in London’s infrastructure.
He said these would “become apparent very quickly” at current levels of growth in the city, adding that multi-national businesses choose to base themselves in London “because it works”.
Speaking at NCE’s London Rail Conference, Ashley called for a change in the way infrastructure benefits are evaluated.
“If we are going to invest, we need to understand more about the value of infrastructure and how it drives growth, and we need to move away from the myopia about reducing the cost of infrastructure,” he said.
Looking back over the 150 year history of the Tube, Ashley said: “Every time we’ve built a new piece of transport infrastructure, that has changed the dynamic of development in this city, and it has grown.
“I think we can take some lessons from the past, and the key lesson is ‘if we build it, they will come’.”
Ashley emphasised that LU’s current upgrade programme, which includes major station redevelopments at Tottenham Court Road, Bank, Victoria and Bond Street, as well as new rolling stock and service enhancements, should not be seen as a finite programme of work, but as part of “a continuous process in facilitating London’s growth”.
“By 2031 we will have increased capacity by 50%, but that is not extraordinary investment – that is necessary and ongoing investment,” he said.