Councils unite to call on government to give full backing for Crossrail 2

Councils from across London and the south east have joined together to pledge their support for Crossrail 2 and urge the government to give the scheme its full backing.

Councils stretching from Cambridge to Portsmouth, and London councils, which represents London’s 32 borough councils and the City of London, have written to the chancellor, Philip Hammond, and transport secretary, Chris Grayling, to highlight the project’s importance to them and to stress that the benefits of the railway would be felt nationwide.

The London mayor’s office said that Crossrail 2 will transform journey times and connectivity from the Solent to the Wash and will relieve congestion on the overcrowded key rail lines from Portsmouth to Cambridge, and link with HS2 at Euston. It will also relieve pressure on the Underground, as the population of the south east region continues to grow rapidly. 

The mayor’s office said that with the overcrowded rail network threatening to stunt economic growth, the dangers of delaying the project are clear. “For commuters travelling into London, overcrowding is already intolerable and, without the much needed additional capacity Crossrail 2 provides, stations including Waterloo, Clapham Junction and Euston will simply buckle under the strain of chronic overcrowding, while the London Underground will face more regular closures and some of the benefits of HS2 will be lost in chaotic transport connections,” said the mayor.

The councils’ letter also highlights that the new railway will bring economic benefits across the UK, boosting the country’s economy by up to £150bn. The councils claim that Crossrail 2 will support some 200,000 new homes and 200,000 jobs and generate 60,000 supply chain jobs across the UK, including 18,000 apprentices. It will open up areas for growth and new jobs, say the councils, including in the Cambridge-Stansted corridor and in the south west of London, and local businesses will also benefit from improved capacity across the region.

The letter is the latest in a series of support for Crossrail 2, following backing from more than 70 business leaders as well more than 60 leading figures from the property industry and housing associations. 

Claire Kober, chair of London Councils, said: “London Councils fully supports Crossrail 2 and it is crucial that government now demonstrates its commitment to the scheme.  The project will provide a much-needed boost to business across the UK in an uncertain economic environment, and is vital to relieve pressure on London’s essential transport network, which is impacted by population growth. We look forward to seeing the plans given full backing by ministers.”

Linda Haysey, leader of East Herts Council, said: “At East Herts, we believe that Crossrail 2 is vital for driving and supporting growth in the district and in the wider south east, and would be welcomed by residents and businesses. With current overcrowding on trains and increased traffic in and around the district, there is a huge demand for better train services. Crossrail 2 will not only help residents who commute on a regular basis, but it will also encourage new residents, workers and visitors into East Herts.”

 Donna Jones, leader of Portsmouth City Council, said: “Many commuters from Portsmouth and the wider south east rely on a quick and efficient rail service into London, but with rising passenger numbers demand is outstripping capacity. Crossrail 2 would provide much needed capacity at London Waterloo, enabling extra, long-distance trains to operate more reliably to and from key cities such as ours. We urge government to back these plans as a priority.”

London mayor, Sadiq Khan, said: “The support of local councils from Cambridge through to Portsmouth shows just how important Crossrail 2 is, not just to London but to the entire south east. It will provide much-needed relief for commuters who are forced to travel on overcrowded rail lines every single day, and unlock thousands of homes and jobs across the region. But Crossrail 2 is not just vital to the south east, its economic boost is vital to the whole of the UK. That’s why it’s so important that the government gives us its backing to proceed as soon as possible.” 

Transport for London has submitted an updated business case and funding plan to the transport secretary?, who is due to make a decision in the spring on further government support. Construction could start in the early 2020s and the railway could be operational by 2033.

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