Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Crossrail funding doubts

A couple of interesting stories regarding the funding of Crossrail. First the Guardian reckon if it goes ahead TfL won't be able to afford anything else:

Senior transport figures say the £16bn Crossrail project, an underground rail link from Heathrow in the west to Canary Wharf in the east, will stifle investment in the ageing tube network, meaning a number of station revamps and line upgrades could be postponed or cancelled.
Secondly the esteemed East London Advertiser claims Gordon Brown is about to cancel the whole thing:
A highly placed source in Crossrail's management team fears the PM will put the cross-London 'super tube' rail link on hold amid increasing concerns about the effect of the credit crunch on the economy.
Both stories are very wishy-washy, anonymously sourced and full of weasel words. The Guardian's story seems to be a thin regurgitation of one the same journalist wrote 6 months ago, only this time fleshed with numbers sourced from "industry speculation" and a few quotes from a rent-an-academic.

So while neither of these stories is very credible in itself, don't be too surprised if funding for Crossrail never actually materialises.

[Thanks to Ian M for the ELA link]


Jack said...

I don't think you can look too much into the fact that the article is written by the same guy. Dan Milmo writes pretty much every transport article for the Guardian.

If I wanted to be a journalist, his would be the job I'd be after!

Andrew said...

I'm sure Boris' "re-assessment" of the Congestion Charge won't help either.

Anonymous said...

Not necessarily a bad thing if Crossrail doesn't happen, there are plenty of other more important rail projects outside London which are far more worthy of investment. The reinstatement of the Varsity Line being one such project.

Jim said...

Maybe I'm just a cynic, but I wonder whether this is TfL playing up their poverty in an attempt to get the new Mayor to reconsider his manifesto commitment that TfL should give up their 'spare' land for cheapo housing development.

Anonymous said...

On the other hand, if I were DfT/TfL/CoL I'd be asking myself whether spending £16bn on Crossrail meant I could shelve investment in parallel routes, such as upgrading the Central line or building that tram along Oxford Street that folk propose every other year.

The Varsity line will be unaffected - it's going to be paid for by an innovative development levy and is a project administered by 17 local authorities. A sure recipe for early success.

Anonymous said...

The biggest investment in the Central would be building Crossrail 1. The whole Tube is abused for a purpose it was never built for, long distance urban travel.

Enhancing the Central Line can be done by closing half of the stations in zone 1 + 2. Unfortunately nobody would dare to suggest that. Therefore every user on the system is inconvenienced by having to stop at least 10 stations they don't have to get off for their daily journey.

Crossrail can give the London network the foundation that is so severely lacking: Tube for a finer meshed system, Crossrail for the medium/long distance backbone.

Andrew said...

Exactly. Paris has a similar system (the Métro for fine-grained transport within the central parts of the city, and the RER for faster trips between more widely spaced stations, including those in the suburbs), and it works quite nicely.

Max Roberts said...

People seem to be quite happy to use the Central Line, many stops might slow the trains down a little bit, but the bonus is better distribution (more likely to have a station nearby to ultimate destination) and quicker station stops. Fewer stations = longer to load and unload because more people have to get on/off at each station.

A good way to start an angry debate amongst New Yorkers is to ask whether, when travelling by Subway, it is better to catch a local or wait from an express, the time saving is usually just a couple of minutes at best.

How will Crossrail speed things up for people living in Epping anyway, or is the plan to give them a Crossrail too?

Extend the Waterloo & City Line to Romford, get most of the East London benefits of Crossrail for a fraction of the price, plus the bonus of speeded journeys from Brentwood etc. to London, which Crossrail is currently not intended to deliver.

Andrew said...

"How will Crossrail speed things up for people living in Epping anyway?"

Diverting traffic from the Central Line in central London will ensure faster loading/unloading times for trains and fewer delays, which will have a knock-on effect to the outer regions of the line. The Central Line is under a lot of strain at peak times, which carries on into delays and unreliability.

John B said...

My it.

The idea that toy projects like the Varsity Line could have even the slightest impact compared to work in London is quite funny. Seriously - trains in the UK are for commuting into, out of and between the biggest cities; all other passenger trains could be abolished tomorrow with a minor impact on the way the country works.

max roberts said...

You don't need to spend 16 billion to relieve that part of the Central Line. Crossrail is a classic example of a scheme that has got out of hand financially, and whose benefits are marginal for the money at best. The current west London proposal, with trains turning round at Paddington, is a fiasco in its own right.

I was travelling in the 1990s on the Central Line when it was in a real state of collapse (it's much improved now), and Crossrail came about then primarily to relieve its Stratford to Bank section. If they had come up with a better targetted cheaper solution, it could have been in service years ago.

Nick said...


"Toy projects" such as the Varsity Line delivering rail access to areas cut off in the 1960s would bring many more benefits than yet another railway line in transport-saturated London.

Aside from the actual passenger services, they facilitate investment into the area by attracting businesses looking to cut back their overheads. They would also allow more freight to be taken off the roads.

Max Roberts said...

Just to put the 16 billion price tag in perspective. The other apparent benefit of Crossrail is to connect Heathrow better directly to Central London (although New York seems to do perfectly well without any direct rail connections to its airports).

I've pulled a price of the Internet for T5, apprently it cost 4.3 billion to build it. Well, for that sort of price, the cost of relocating all of Heathrow to somewhere more sensible would presumably be around 20 billion, with all the benefits of a better site and brand new buildings. Why not build it near the CTRL somewhere, then you can have high speed trains direct to London.

John B said...

"(although New York seems to do perfectly well without any direct rail connections to its airports)."

except for its second-largest airport, which has a very good direct rail connection.

Sweek said...

Crossrail is really not just a "Central line relief line" It connects Europe's biggest airport with Europe's two biggest financial centres.

I agree that turning around trains at Paddington is a bad idea, bt I am quite sure there are simple solutions to that. Ken was already talking with Heathrow Connect to scrap their services and integrate it into Crossrail, meaning a number of those Paddington trains could be extended to Heathrow.

Anonymous said...

Just out of interest...if Crossrail follows the Central Line calling at Bond Street and Tottenham Court Road, why doesn't it have a stop at Oxford Circus?