CONCERN HAS been raised within the industry after the Queen’s Speech opening the new Parliamentary session on 21 June backed HS2 but made no reference to Northern Powerhouse Rail or Crossrail 2.
Darren Caplan, chief executive of the Railway Industry Association, said: ‘We support (the) announcement bringing forward further legislation on High Speed 2, which will deliver clear improvements and increase overall capacity for passengers and freight and which will see new rolling stock introduced and stations upgraded.
‘However, we are concerned about the lack of commitment to Crossrail 2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail (or HS3) in the Queen’s Speech. Rail infrastructure needs to be improved throughout the whole of the UK and major schemes like these provide wider benefits not just to those parts of the country they serve but also to the national economy; and they are essential to helping Britain become Brexit-ready in the years to come.
‘We urge the Government to give a green light to both Crossrail 2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail as infrastructure projects crucial to the future success of UK plc, and to do this quickly.’
Transport for London has submitted a business case to build Crossrail 2 to the Department for Transport, and the Mayor’s draft transport strategy strongly emphasises the case for the line. The proposed north east to south west London link is estimated to cost in the region of £30 billion and the aim is to open it in 2033, when Phase 2 of HS2 into London Euston is completed.
Speaking to Modern Railways, TfL Commissioner Mike Brown explained TfL’s belief that ‘HS2 won’t work into Euston without Crossrail 2’ as the current tube lines serving the station are already overcrowded. Mr Brown also highlighted that new South Western franchise operator First MTR is promising a capacity increase of 46% on suburban routes into London Waterloo, and it will be a challenge to disperse these passengers across the capital.
However, renewed hope for the scheme came when Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss’s new ministerial brief made specific mention of the project, alongside HS2, Network Rail and the Oxford/Cambridge corridor. Speaking in the House of Commons on 13 July, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: ‘I absolutely support the need for the capacity improvements that Crossrail 2 will bring to London – indeed, not just to London, but to areas outside. We are working our way through the business case. I do not think it is any secret that the Transport for London funding package has not quite lived up to initial promises, but I want this to work.’
Meanwhile, the National Infrastructure Commission chaired by Lord Adonis has listed HS2, HS3 and Crossrail 2 as three of the top four infrastructure priorities the Government should progress during the next year. The highest priority scheme highlighted by the NIC is building a third runway at Heathrow Airport.