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Johnson lobbies to keep Crossrail going after election

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.

Readers' comments (4)

  • Sorry Boris. If the C's win your out. They need an L' mayor to blame. If the LD's win they will be too busy watching 70m people eating their hats. If the L's win they will be too busy sighing with relief. Why not try for a new job on TV? I will recommend you if you like. Perhaps humour is your real roll in life?
    P.s. I realy like Boris.

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  • Well it is about time that someone realised that this project is a farce in terms of expenditure and value for money.

    No one in their right mind (be they from any Political Persuasion) can commit a future Government to a programme that is faulted from the very start in delivering benefits to so few at the expense of so many. The Government (and indeed any that follows after the next General Election) must realise that concentrating all this effort and expenditure in London is of marginal benefit to the rest of the country.

    We must get our priorities right and concentrate on major infrastructure routes (rail and road) that have real benefits for the Country such as High Speed Rail Links that connect the major Cities to the Channel Rail Crossing by passing London altogether. These include: (i) the long lost Eastern Corridor Link to Newcastle and Edinburgh which would bring immense benefits to the East of the country, and: (ii) the Cardiff/Bristol connection, and (iii) the North Wales (Holyhead) link which would bring a major boost to the economy of this area, and (iv) links that would allow businesses and people to travel quickly from South Wales to North Wales and beyond to Glasgow or Edinburgh without going through Birmingham.

    Thee are just some of the many other infrastructure areas that are more pressing than Cross Rail and the benefits to the UK is much wider than transporting a mere 500,000 through London.

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  • "Johnson also used the event to throw his weight behind proposals for an inner London orbital rail network".

    Does anyone know what this means?

    Should that be OUTER London, perhaps??

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  • This idea is about as ridiculous as the building of a new airport in the Thames estuary. A far better option for consideration there would have been for the Government and the RAF to release Brize Norton (near Oxford) a site with a current worth of approximately £55 billion in land value alone, and then to seek sponsors for developing it into a mjor substitute Airport for London!

    We heard this as well and then thought 'This is truly a nonsense! Who voted for him?' The only people who would benefit here would be those Consulting Engineers who would like to make money out of the poor tax payers in London by carrying out the study for same!

    What we really need is a reduction in the multiplicity of Local Government organisations and Councils across the Country and a major reduction in their attendant Civil Service personnel so that the money spent on their exorbitant salaries and benefits can be diverted to e wisely to the real needs of the Country's infrastructure that would greatly help the Nation.

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