Government infrastructure tsar Sir John Armitt is this week expected to throw his weight behind a £1.5bn extension to Ebbsfleet.
New Civil Engineer understands that Armitt, who chairs the government’s National Infrastructure Commission, is expected to announce that an extension of the Crossrail line from Abbey Wood into Kent is the top priority for the region in his capacity as chair of the Thames Estuary Growth Commission.
The commission was set up by then communities secretary Sajid Javid to explore ways to maximise the potential for the Thames Estaury region, which includes the Ebbsfleet Garden City development area. It is due to report this week and Armitt is understood to see the extension of Crossrail to Ebbsfleet as the highest priority.
Government has already said it is warm to the idea. Last month transport minister Jo Johnson told MPs that the government would give the extension “the fullest possible consideration” when further details emerge. Transport for London is looking in detail at the proposal and is preparing a Strategic Outline Business Case to be submitted to the Department for Transport this summer.
Johnson told MPs that there had been considerable change in South East London and North Kent since the decision to not extend beyond Abbey Wood was finalised in the 2008 Crossrail Act, and in light of this said government would take a fresh look at the case for extending to Ebbsfleet.
Crossrail to Ebbsfleet?
The extension is anticipated to take up to 10 years to design and build but would provide a valuable connection between Ebbsfleet’s High Speed 1 station and Canary Wharf. NCE understands that discussions are already underway with Canary Wharf Group (CWG) around funding. CWG put up £150M towards the cost of its Crossrail station and the expectation would be that it would put up more funds for this extension.
If the Thames Estuary Commission endorses the extension as a critical infrastructure investment, local council leaders and MPs will be seeking government support to enable the extension to reach the next phase of development involving a full business case and detailed engineering design.
The priorities of the Thames Estuary 2050 Growth Commission include equipping people with the right skills, and providing high quality housing.
Since it was established in March 2016, The Thames Estuary 2050 Growth Commission has been working to develop an ambitious vision and delivery plan for North Kent, South Essex and East London up to 2050. Home to 3.8M people, the Thames Estuary is on the doorstep of both London and continental Europe, and has the potential to support growth right across the country. It also faces some real challenges, including significant pockets of deprivation.
Campaign group C2E, which includes local councils and Transport for London, says the extension will help support up to 55,000 new homes for London and Kent and up to 50,000 new jobs.
In his latest transport strategy, London mayor Sadiq Khan says he supports the extension in principle, but that London would not be providing any additional funding for it.
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