With the new Elizabeth Line already proving hugely popular with passengers, ACE chief executive Stephen Marcos Jones says it’s now time to make progress on Crossrail 2.
While the engineers who work for our members at the Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE) will marvel at the scale of the project – 10,000 workers, 42km of new tunnels, 10 new stations in London and 13 years of construction – the truth is that this means little to the general public.
They will be more impressed by a completely new turn-up-and-go service which dramatically cuts journey times. Liverpool Street to Paddington is now a just a ten minute journey, while Canary Wharf and the City are only seven minutes apart. All of London’s four major airports are now connected via just one change. Up to 34 trains an hour will carry as many as 1,500 commuters beneath the central zone of the capital.
Official figures expect the Elizabeth Line to boost the UK economy by £42bn. In London, 180,000 new homes have been or will be built along the line and a recent study by Rightmove showed that property prices close to Crossrail stations have doubled in the last decade. Through its construction, over 72,000 jobs were directly supported.
The benefits haven’t purely been limited to the capital though. Across the supply chain 55,000 roles were supported indirectly. These included the £1bn contract for the design, delivery and testing of trains delivered by Alstom in Derby.
At the launch event, the prime minister outlined his view that now was the time for progress on Crossrail 2. In the same way that the Elizabeth Line has revolutionised east-west travel, this will do the same for north-south, linking Clapham Junction, Chelsea, Euston, Hackney and Tottenham. It will also mean commuters from Surrey and Hertfordshire avoiding pinch points and will free up capacity on the Victoria and Northern tube lines. The project estimates that it can unlock up to 200,000 homes along the line in London and the south east.
We know Boris Johnson is fond of infrastructure projects, but unlike the bridge to Northern Ireland, this one is relatively simple. The project was first discussed in the 1970s and there is already a dedicated team ready to pick up the baton at Transport for London. The upcoming rebuild of Euston and expansion of the British Library have both accommodated a future Crossrail 2 tunnel and station. For all intents and purposes, it's an “oven ready” transformative transport project which will build on the lessons learned of the Elizabeth Line’s construction and delivery.
Finances are – as always – an issue and the Prime Minister has urged London to come up with a plan featuring tax increment financing. More than this however, we need a long-term funding settlement for Transport for London to create the certainty necessary to unlock progress. We need all stakeholders to come together and capitalise on Crossrail’s success for a similarly transformative North/South London route.
Stephen Marcos Jones is CEO of the Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE).