Crossrail 2 must have a funding proposal in place by the end of the year to give enough time for the £31bn scheme to open in the 2030s, the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) chair has said.
NIC chair John Armitt called on the government to come up with a timetable and funding package for the mega-project by the end of 2018 to meet its original early 2030s opening date, with a view to introducing a Hybrid Bill during the current parliament.
An independent finance review, chaired by former Tideway managing director Mike Gerrard, is currently looking at how London can fund half the £31bn line during its construction – one of transport secretary Chris Grayling’s requirements when he gave the go-ahead last July.
Property taxes and stage-by-stage construction have been mooted as potential solutions, although no funding decisions have been made.
Crossrail 2 managing director Michele Dix has previously warned that problems raising construction costs for the rail line running through London from south-west to north of the city could see it delayed until the 2040s.
Armitt told an audience in London: “We want Government to ensure that the independent review of the funding and financing of Crossrail 2 is completed as soon as possible, with a view to setting out a firm timetable and funding proposal by the end of this year.”
Railway Industry Association chief executive Darren Caplan welcomed Armitt’s comments and warned time is running out for Crossrail 2 to open by the 2030s.
He added: “We urge the financial review to be undertaken as soon as possible, so the project can proceed on the originally planned timescale. Without doing so it will be more difficult to integrate Crossrail 2 with other projects like HS2, reducing the ability to manage congestion on the network.
“The railway industry stands ready to do its bit to help deliver Crossrail 2 which, along with other major projects like Crossrail, Northern Powerhouse Rail, HS2, and East-West Rail, is vital to UK plc, its economy and future connectivity.”
A DfT spokesperson added:“Crossrail 2 has clear potential to unlock new housing, jobs and development and provide London with infrastructure that will support its growth. We need to ensure the public gets an affordable scheme that is fair to the UK taxpayer, and are clear that we must improve transport in lockstep across the whole country.
“All major projects, including Crossrail and HS2, have been subject to external scrutiny, which has become key to their success and progress today. This follows best practice.
“The Independent Affordability Review is considering a range of options and will submit an interim report to DfT and TfL in summer 2018.”