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NIC criticises slow progress of Crossrail 2

110482 crossrail reveals first completed train tunnel november 2013

The National Infrastructure Commission’s (NIC) first Annual Monitoring Report has found the government to be too slow to establish a firm timetable or funding plan for Crossrail 2.

The report, published today, has raised concerns on 12 immediate infrastructure priorities, of which it believed needed urgent government action.

For Crossrail 2, the report has called for the government to ensure the independent review of the funding and financing of Crossrail 2 is completed “as soon as possible” with a view of setting out a firm timetable and funding proposal by the end of this year.

The recommendation includes “the next stage of consultation should then follow to enable the introduction of a hybrid Bill later this parliament, with the overall aim of opening Crossrail 2 in the early to mid-2030s.”

Back in October 2015, the NIC advised the government on the case for more large-scale transport infrastructure in London and its surrounding region. The NIC found that Crossrail 2 should be taken forward as a priority, and that funding should be made available to develop the scheme with the aim of submitting a hybrid Bill by autumn 2019.

NIC chairman John Armitt said today of progress so far of Crossrail and Northern Power House: “It is hugely disappointing that nearly two years after the Commission’s reports on Crossrail 2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail, the Government still has not firmly committed to a timetable for funding or got a clear plan for delivering either of these nationally significant projects.

“It is vital that decisions on both schemes are made this year and that the government commits to the long-term vision that supports the recommendations we made.”

Back in October 2015, the chancellor asked the commission to advise the government on the case for additional large-scale transport infrastructure in the capital and its surrounding region. Transport for a World City report was published in March 2016 and the commission’s central finding was that Crossrail 2 should be taken forward as a priority, with funding made available to develop the scheme with the aim of submitting a hybrid bill by autumn 2019. This would enable Crossrail 2 to open in 2033, in time for the planned arrival of HS2 phase 2 at Euston.

In the Transport for a World City report , the NIC made seven recommendations for Crossrail 2

  • Crossrail 2 should be taken forward, subject to the government also taking forward the other recommendations.
  • Crossrail 2 should be at the heart of the London Plan, integrated with smaller scale interventions by Transport for London and planned alongside other high-value schemes.
  • Sufficient funds should be released by the Department for Transport (DfT) and Transport for London (TfL) to submit a revised business case for Crossrail 2 by March 2017 with the aim of introducing a hybrid bill by autumn 2019. The business case should identify clear proposals to maximise benefits and increase deliverability.
  • A ‘London deal for Crossrail 2’ funding arrangement, where London contributes more than half of the cost of the scheme, should be agreed ahead of the hybrid bill submission.
  • Development of Crossrail 2 should include a clear, transformative plan to turn the proposed 200,000 houses into a reality. The opportunity should be taken to maximise private sector involvement in the development and funding of stations and their surrounding areas.

At the time the government endorsed all of the NIC’s recommendations and £80M funding was made available from central government which, alongside a similar contribution from London, allowed development of the scheme to progress.

In today’s report, the NIC has said it “remains concerned” and “the longer it takes to reach a decision on the business case and timetable for depositing a hybrid bill, the greater the risk that additional funding may be required to complete all the necessary work.”

In November 2017, the Government announced a further independent review of Crossrail 2, with conclusions expected in 2018.

Today Armitt adds: “The Commission warns the UK’s historic weakness in strategic infrastructure planning could have damaging consequences for economic growth and international competitiveness if left unaddressed.”

The other eleven immediate infrastructure priorities addressed in the report are: Heathrow third runway, High Speed 2, High Speed 3, Eastern crossings of the River Thames, flexible power systems, renewable energy, decarbonisation of energy, Hinkley Point C, broadband and mobile, 5G mobile, and water and flood defence infrastructure.

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