Crossrail 2: what's the route and when will it open?
North-south London train line has faced repeated delays and questions about funding
With the newly renamed Elizabeth Line finally set to open in December, the fate of its sister project, Crossrail 2, hangs in the balance, amid repeated delays and questions about funding.
What is the Crossrail 2 route?
The new line will bisect London from north to south, linking the suburban railway network from Tottenham Hale to Wimbledon via a new tunnel through the centre of the capital.
The final route hasn’t been finalised, although current plans stretch from Broxbourne in Hertfordshire and continue through the heart of the capital and on to Kingston before terminating in Epsom and Hampton Court in Surrey.
How much will it cost and who will pay for it?
Crossrail 2 is now projected to come in at around £31bn, double that of the Elizabeth Line.
The government initially backed the project, but Transport Secretary Chris Grayling last year threw a spanner in the works by saying Transport for London (TfL) would have to fund half the project upfront, as opposed to over the life of the scheme.
London First, which represents 200 businesses in the capital, has proposed a 1% increase in fares on TfL services, which would generate about £30m a year, to help fund the line. The rise would amount to about £1.50 a month for a commuter using a zone 1 to 3 travel card.
Under the proposals, Londoners could also be asked to pay extra council tax, much like contributions that were introduced ahead of the 2012 Olympic Games.
But with commuters already complaining about exorbitant rail fare increases, any extra charge to pay for Crossrail 2 is likely to be met with hostility.
When will it be built?
Despite the stand-off over funding, the project is still expected to get the green light - but even then it faces a long and arduous journey before ground can be broken.
Following a public consultation on the preferred route, safeguarded land will need to be secured and purchased before a hybrid bill can be submitted to Parliament for approval.
It had been hoped this would take place in 2020 but it has been pushed back to the early 2020s.
This means the whole line is unlikely to be open until the mid-2030s at the earliest - but the clock is ticking. Speaking to City AM, Crossrail 2 managing director Michele Dix said it was crucial to ensure construction gets underway in time to tie in with HS2’s arrival at Euston, to deal with the expected surge in passengers that will bring.
Do we really need it?
Crossrail 2 is seen as integral to the HS2 rail project. The £26bn first phase of HS2, which is expected to open in 2026, will cut journey times by up to 50 minutes from London’s Euston station to Birmingham.
However, the Financial Times says “these savings will be lost in the scrum of passengers, queues and poor onward connections at London’s Euston station without Crossrail 2” and could even “make the problem worse”, carrying ten high-speed trains an hour through the station.
As well as the HS2 link-up, transport chiefs, businesses and the mayor of London have all stressed the importance of the new north-south line in securing the long-term well-being of the capital.
A spokesman for London Mayor Sadiq Khan said: “Without Crossrail 2, the major suburban rail lines across the south of England, already nearly full to bursting, could collapse under the sheer number of passengers over the decades ahead.”
Lord Adonis, the former National Infrastructure Commission chairman, also issued a stark warning last year that London will “grind to a halt” by the 2030s unless major improvements are made to the transport network.
Surrey County Council (SCC) has made a similar plea for funding to be agreed, describing Crossrail 2 as a “once in a generation opportunity” to drive economic growth, and emphasising that the project is a “key priority” for the county.
But while the project retains the nominal support of the government, “there are concerns that ministers will be perceived as concentrating on London’s transport system while neglecting other parts of the UK, especially after the recent cancellation of rail upgrades, including electrification in South Wales and the Midlands to Sheffield and Nottingham”, reports the Financial Times.