Crossrail must be given firm government support “immediately” after a General Election to safeguard its future, London mayor Boris Johnson told NCE this week.
“I will be looking for assurances from the government of its guarantees [that Crossrail will go ahead] pretty well immediately [after the General Election],” said Johnson.
“My Conservative colleagues recognise it is essential,” he said, urging businesses leaders to lobby the main political parties to back the scheme.
The Conservatives have pledged to review Crossrail if they win next year’s election (News last week), and are likely to demand savings from the £15.9bn capital cost.
“It would be a false economy to cut transport infrastructure spending. We may be in a hole, but the important thing is that we keep digging.”
Boris Johnson, London mayor
Johnson was speaking at Crossrail’s Tottenham Court Road site where he was supporting the launch of business lobby group London First’s report on the modernisation of the Underground. The report calls for completion the Tube upgrades as a priority.
The mayor said that ministers would be unable to cancel Crossrail after the end of 2010 if the Treasury rubber stamps the project after completing its final review of the project.
“The government will be obliged to cut spending on all sorts of things but it would be a false economy to cut transport infrastructure spending. We may be in a hole, but the important thing is that we keep digging,” he said.
Johnson suggested Westminster was one area where savings could be made: “My number one priority [after the General Election] is getting [the 179] ministers out of taxpayer-funded cars,” he said.
Investment and benefit
London First’s report Holding the Line − The Economic Benefits of Modernising the Tube states that the total cost of the programme is £11.4bn. This figure includes £5.9bn in maintenance work to halt further deterioration. The remaining £5.5bn is expected to be covered by projected fare revenues of £8bn.
London First’s research indicates that the investment would generate £54bn of benefit − £30.5bn for London and £23.5bn to the rest of the country “Its [the Underground’s] modernisation began six years ago …It must not falter, or we risk sentencing Londoners to decades of underground misery,” said London First chief executive Baroness Jo Valentine.
Johnson also used the event to throw his weight behind proposals for an inner London orbital rail network and proposals for the Chelsea to Hackney “Crossrail 2” line − both supported by his predecessor Ken Livingstone (NCE 18 October 2007).
However, Johnson said funding for Crossrail 2 could not be sourced before Crossrail is completed.