The London Assembly Transport Committee has raised concerns over Crossrail, saying London has been burdened with the costs, compulsory premises purchases have been handled badly, and political momentum must be maintained.
In its new report, Light at the end of the tunnel, the Committee offers strong support for the £16bn rail link, but questions why London is contributing more than half of the funding for a project that is estimated to generate £22bn for central government over the next ten years.
The report also highlights the fact that eight of the 37 Crossrail stations are outside Greater London, yet only London businesses are contributing to Crossrail through business rates.
“Political momentum must be maintained over the coming years to ensure the project is delivered.”
Caroline Pidgeon , London Assembly Transport Committee
The Committee is highly critical of Crossrail Ltd’s dealings with displaced businesses and residents whose premises are compulsory purchased to make way for construction work. Some compulsory purchase negotiations with businesses and residents in Soho have been poorly handled and the report urges Crossrail to lift its game as the project progresses.
The report recognises the benefits Crossrail is expected to bring, including an extra 10% capacity on London’s rail and Tube network, thousands of new jobs and a massive boost to the national economy.
But the report notes there is still an element of risk to a project of this scale in the current economic and political environment. The Committee calls for the current London and central government consensus about Crossrail to be maintained.
Transport Committee chair Caroline Pidgeon AM said: “London badly needs the extra capacity and economic benefits Crossrail will bring, so political momentum must be maintained over the coming years to ensure the project is delivered.
“Disruption and displacement are inevitable consequences of building a new rail link through central London, but Crossrail’s initial dealings with displaced businesses and residents have been very disappointing. We hope they have learned lessons from these early experiences.”
The Committee has also requested more details on targets for skills and employment opportunities for Londoners, and on the environmental impacts of Crossrail both during construction and when it is up and running. Follow-up work and progress checks will be carried out regularly over the coming years.
Crossrail Chief Executive Rob Holden, did not address the issues raised by the Assembley, and said: “Crossrail notes with interest the London Assembly Transport Committee’s report on the Crossrail programme “Light at the end of the tunnel” published today.
“We welcome the Committee’s cross-party support for Crossrail and its recognition of the project’s long-term economic benefits to the capital and the whole of the UK. We note the Committee’s recommendations and look forward to continuing our engagement with it and through the life of the project.”