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Crossrail 2 could come 'too late' to ease London congestion

Crossrail 2

Even if work started on Crossrail 2 in the 2020s it would still “probably be too late” to help avoid serious overcrowding at London’s busiest stations, a Transport for London (TfL) director has warned.

TfL director of public affairs and external relations David McNeill said it could already be too late to rely on the £31bn scheme to ease congestion woes at stations such as Clapham Junction and Waterloo, which recently received an £800M capacity boost.

After the mid-2020s, McNeil said the station will reach a “choke point” which would constrain its functioning.

Construction of Crossrail 2 is not expected to begin until the 2020s at the earliest, but Crossrail 2 managing director Michèle Dix has warned that funding issues could push the start date back until the 2040s.

McNeil told CityAM: “Quite simply, Waterloo is running out of capacity. It’s just undergone a programme that was really disruptive and that will probably keep it going to mid-2020s, probably. Then after that it will reach choke point.

“We are already seeing the pressure points - as commuters who use Waterloo will notice, it’s really difficult to get from the trains onto the Tube to move onwards from there. The station is just not big enough to deal with the numbers [of commuters], even with high volume Tubes and more platforms.”

He added: “These are real problems that we are seeing now - not in 20 or 30 years. You are seeing them today and they will get worse and in 10 years’ time it will be too late to do anything about it.”

A major funding review to determine whether Crossrail 2 is good value for money is underway. Transport secretary Chris Grayling has already warned that London must pay half the £31bn cost upfront during the construction phase.

Property taxes and stage-by-stage construction have been mooted as potential solutions, although no funding decisions have been made.

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “Crossrail 2 has the potential to unlock new housing, jobs and development and provide London with infrastructure to support its growth.

“It is imperative that, as with major projects like Crossrail and High Speed 2, proposals are subject to detailed external scrutiny to ensure the public gets an affordable scheme that is fair to the UK taxpayer. We are also clear that we must improve transport in lockstep across the whole country.

“We recognise the potential in the funding proposal the mayor has proposed. Through the independent funding and financing review, we look forward to working with the mayor to further develop it.”

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