The government is looking at other ways of achieving Crossrail 2 goals without building “a single big infrastructure scheme” rail minister Jo Johnson has said.
Speaking at the London Infrastructure Summit, Johnson said Crossrail 2 had three core objectives: to relieve congestion at Euston station, enabling “massive” housing growth and opportunities in the north east of London in the Lee Valley, and to decongest parts of south west London.
Each of these, he said, were being looked at to see if they could be achieved without building Crossrail 2.
“Each of those objectives needs to be assessed against other ways of achieving those goals other than a single big infrastructure scheme of the Crossrail 2 kind. That’s exactly the work the Gerrard review is looking at.”
Johnson’s remarks come just a week after Transport bosses vowed to push ahead with Crossrail 2 despite a year delay to the Elizabeth line.
The decision by the government ultimately rests upon the outcome of the Gerrard review, an independent affordability review commissioned by the government last year. A decision for this is expected in the autumn.
Of the review rail minister Jo Johnson said an interim review had already been presented to the government and it was working with the Gerrard team to look at the affordability of the scheme.
After a backlash last year against the cancellation of the electrification schemes, the government is now also under pressure to make a decision on schemes in the north alongside that for Crossrail 2.
London councils chair Peter John was also pessimistic about the prospect of a decision on the future of Crossrail 2 being made in the near future.
“I’m a bit more pessimistic about these things because while everyone here is focused on delivery and results, there’s such a thing as party politics that looms over decisions about infrastructure,” he said. “I think the government has been handed a 12 month pass on making a decision on Crossrail 2 because of the delay of the opening of Crossrail. Then you’ve got six months before the mayoral election which will give them another reason to delay the decision.
“So we’re looking beyond May 2020 before there’ll be any decision and then we’re heading into a general election so who knows.”
However Crossrail 2 managing director Michele Dix remained positive that the scheme will go ahead despite “affordability challenges” and the news of Crossrail’s late opening and increased budget.
“I’m much more chirpier than Peter,” she said. “I think taking Crossrail 2 forward, I think all of the work that we’ve been doing with the independent affordability review panel is all positive in making this happen, so I would cheer up if I were you.
“Crossrail 1 has been 40 years in the making, Crossrail will be 60 years in the making and 75 years for Silvertown Tunnel, so these things do take time. We have to work our way through them and we will continue our work with Crossrail 2 to get that over the line in parallel with Northern Powerhouse Rail.”
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