Construction of the Crossrail 2 rail link needs to be sped up in order to prevent London from ‘grinding to a halt’, the National Infrastructure Commission has urged.
In a report released today, the NIC said Crossrail 2 needs to be made a priority. The government, the report suggested, should aim to have the £27bn to £32bn scheme up and running by 2033, which would require an earlier release of funds.
To make the project more affordable, the construction of its north-western branch to New Southgate could be postponed, which would reduce the 2020's expenditure by about £4bn.
Crossrail 2, designed to complement the £14.8bn east-to-west Crossrail route due to start opening from next year, is expected to run from Broxbourne in Hertfordshire to Epsom in Surrey.
Up to 30 trains per hour would run in each direction through a tunnel built from Wimbledon to New Southgate and Tottenham Hale, with stops in central London in places including Tottenham Court Road, Victoria, Chelsea and Clapham Junction.
During a visit to Crossrail's site under construction at Tottenham Court Road station, NIC chairman Lord Adonis said London needs Crossral 2 "as quickly as possible" to relieve severe overcrowding at rail stations and ease congestion on Underground and Network Rail train lines. He added that the city will "grind to a halt" by the 2030s, unless major improvements to its transport infrastructure are made.
"Crossrail 2 will help keep London moving, create hundreds of thousands of homes and fire regeneration across the city ... we should get on with it right away and have the line open by 2033," he said. "There is no good reason to delay.”
The NIC urged the Department for Transport (DfT) and Transport for London (TfL) to issue a revised business case for the project with the aim of submitting a hybrid Bill in Parliament by autumn 2019. The report also recommended that a funding plan is created for Crossrail 2 in which London contributes more than half the money required. There should also be a strategy to maximise private sector investment and ensure the construction of at least 200,000 homes along the route, the NIC said.
London Mayor Boris Johnson has previously claimed the benefits of Crossrail 2 "will more than pay for the scheme" and warned the UK economy would miss out on a £4 billion boost for every six-month delay.