London pays half: new demands on Crossrail 2

London mayor Sadiq Khan has received assurance that government is still backing Crossrail 2, but London has to find a way of paying for half of its construction. The scheme has previously progressed with plans predicated on Transport for London funding the project over its lifetime through fares and business rates, but after meeting with transport secretary Chris Grayling last week, Khan now knows government wants to see half of the construction costs coming from London while it's built.

A government statement said the need for new infrastructure to meet forecast demand was agreed, as was the need for a new funding package that recognises other priorities and works for London and the rest of the country. The cost of the proposed rail link from south west London into the northern home counties, underground through central London from Wimbledon to Tottenham Hale, was estimated at £32.6bn by the National Infrastructure Commission in its Transport for a World City report last year.

Since then, government has been largely quiet on Crossrail 2, notably omitting it from the 2017 Budget and the Conservative Party's Election Manifesto statement on infrastructure, leading promoters, MPs, London boroughs, businessses and the NIC chair Lord Adonis to urge government to get behind the scheme. Crossrail 2 is seen as essential for coping with population growth and providing for housing demand in London, while also preventing travel chaos at Euston when Phase 2 of HS2 opens in 2033. Critics point to the huge costs and the more pressing need for infrastructure investment in the north.

Last week, Khan released a report that he hopes will debunk the myth that London gets more than its fair share of transport spending.

TfL's managing director for Crossrail 2, Michelle Dix, told Infrastructure Intelligence last year that the plan is to have route decisions finalised for submitting a hybrid Bill for the project in 2019, but she has since said the project has slipped back nearly a year while government has been preoccupied in the wake of Brexit and as a result of this year's General Election.

Grayling has now said he's a supporter of Crossrail 2, but that more has to be done due to its big price tag.

"The mayor and I have agreed to work together on it over the comong months to develop plams that are as strong as possible, so that the public gets an affordable scheme that is fair to the UK taxpayer," he said. The scheme's fifth public consultation will be launched to gather more views and to clarify the position around the safeguarded route, he added.

Sadiq Khan's statement following the meeting said: "Crossrail 2 is essential for the future prosperity of London and the south-east, so I’m pleased that the Transport Secretary and I have reached an agreement to take this vital project forward. We will continue to work together to ensure the project is value for money and provides the maximum benefits for jobs and growth in the region over the coming decades. I look forward to moving to the next stage of consultation."