Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Raynsford’s Crusade

MP for Greenwich and Woolwich and former planning and construction minister Nick Raynsford has been a staunch advocate of Crossrail for decades. This time, he says, nothing will derail it.

Crossrail has spent a long time waiting in the wings. The Crossrail Bill was first submitted to Parliament in 1991. It was seen as a way to increase capacity and ease congestion on London’s transport system, but the bill was rejected in 1994 as the early 1990s recession temporarily depressed passenger journeys into and through the capital. "There was a bid to progress the scheme in the 1990s but it didn’t get through the hybrid bill process," says Nick Raynsford, who became Labour MP for Greenwich in 1992. "With the change in Government [in 1997], it was important to build a case for Crossrail. At the same time, it had committed to the Channel Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL). But when the funding difficulties were overcome and CTRL was a triumphant success, the pressure for Crossrail began to mount."

In 2000 the idea of an east to west line was re-ignited as the London transport network suffered record levels of congestion. Raynsford supported another bill that was submitted to Parliament. But it was not until the planned Woolwich station was dropped from the Crossrail proposals in 2005 that the battle became more personal for Raynsford. "The problem was always the scale and cost of the project," he says. "While I was still a Government minister in early 2005, the Department for Transport sought to make economies and part of those eliminated the station at Woolwich, which was important for my constituency.

In 2005 [when Raynsford returned to the backbenches], I was free to take up the cudgels for Woolwich and became engaged in trying to reverse the decision." The Crossrail Committee was finally persuaded of the need for a station at Woolwich in August 2006, but the Department for Transport turned down the committee’s recommendations in October the same year because of funding issues.

The station did not get the go ahead until developers, central Government, the local council and Crossrail backers agreed a financial plan. "We persuaded the select committee that the station was essential and the Government reversed the decision," says Raynsford. "I find myself in a happy position not just because I support Crossrail but also because it will bring huge benefits to my constituency." Berkeley Homes will finance and build the station box as part of a vast redevelopment in Woolwich. It has planning permission for houses on the site where the Crossrail box will be. "The station will add to the value of the houses," says Raynsford. It will also make it easier for people living locally to commute to jobs in London’s business zones and will also be a catalyst for investment in the area, providing local jobs.

Crossrail will inspire regeneration at Woolwich, but this regeneration will also make Crossrail more financially viable, says Raynsford. Its existing transport links combined with the link to Crossrail could see it becoming a major transport hub for the south-east of London. Will Crossrail’s development be hit by the economic crisis, as it was 15 years ago? Raynsford is confident that the right funding packages are now in place that will mean the Crossrail scheme finally comes to fruition.

"The project is costing £15.9bn but it’s not costing any one [of the funders that full amount]. It helps to explain why the Government, the Mayor and the Greater London Authority are quite so positive about saying it will proceed. The financial basis is not only sound, but means scheme will progress even in these times of economic turmoil."

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Please note comments made online may also be published in the print edition of New Civil Engineer. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.