London’s underground system is in danger of “grinding to a halt” in the next 20 years unless planning begins for a north-south rail link, it has been claimed.
The ‘Crossrail 2’ scheme would involve building an underground line from Tottenham in north-east London to Wimbledon in south-west London by the end of the next decade as part of a £15bn scheme.
Work is already under way to ease the capacity squeeze on London’s transport network. Capacity will be increased by a third over the next decade thanks to the £16bn Crossrail project connecting east and west London, along with the multibillion-pound upgrades to the Tube.
But London’s population is forecast to increase by 1.2m to over 8.8m by 2031, while an extra 750,000 jobs will be created, so commuters will once again be faced with overflowing tube and train carriages by 2031.
Business lobby group London First has called on the government and TfL to begin detailed planning immediately for Crossrail 2 to prevent delays which have hampered previous projects.
Former Labour transport secretary Lord Adonis, who chaired the London First working group on the project, said: “The issue is whether we want to start planning for Crossrail 2 now or leave it until the early 2030s when the congestion is upon us and let London grind to a halt like we did with the Tube in the 1980s and 1990s, which did a lot of economic damage to London.”
TfL will review the proposed route for Crossrail 2 next year.
It could opt for a full-scale rail line connecting Wimbledon in the south with Tottenham Hale in the north of London, or decide to go for a £10bn shorter metro line, which would only run from Clapham Common to Seven Sisters.
Lord Adonis said work had already begun to draw up a credible funding plan, while there has been “strong support from the business community” for the proposals. London firms have funded a quarter of the £16bn Crossrail project through a special levy.
Tim Bellenger, director of policy and investigation at transport watchdog London TravelWatch said: “London TravelWatch supports the case for Crossrail 2 due to the benefits it will bring to London’s passengers in terms of increased capacity, potential to reduce overcrowding on the rail and tube networks, increased connectivity and reduced journey times through better interchange and through journey opportunities.
“It will be an essential element if and when the High Speed (HS2) line from Birmingham is approved and constructed to distribute passengers from a rebuilt Euston station within London.
“However, it is a long-term project and as a passenger body we believe that there are significant improvements that the mayor and the Department for Transport could bring forward in the immediate future which could produce similar benefits, but at a more modest cost.”
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