Business leaders will consider the case for a new underground rail link

Business membership organisation London First has launched a working group of business leaders to examine the case for a new rail link beneath central London.

The capital’s existing rail and underground networks get heavily congested during peak hours, and with around 1.3 million more people and over 750,000 more jobs expected in London over the next 20 years, London First is keen to plan the next generation of transport improvements.

Chaired by former Transport Secretary Andrew Adonis, the group will draw on work previously undertaken by Transport for London on a route for “Crossrail 2” between Chelsea and Hackney.

The project was seriously considered in 1995, but was eventually shelved due to costs.

The group’s considerations will support the government’s work in developing a new high speed rail network through the midlands to the North-west and Yorkshire, which will terminate at Euston.

Forecasts have shown that unless additional provision is made for the onward dispersal of passengers, tube delays at Euston will negate any time savings from a new Manchester to London high speed rail link.   

The working group will explore Crossrail 2’s potential to manage this situation.

Further, it will examine how much demand the tube network will face after 2020, assess the impact on the tube of new national projects like HS2, and analyse the business case for further investment in a new cost-effective link to improve transport connections within London.

Jo Valentine, chief executive of London First, said: “London’s continued ability to attract talent and investment from around the world depends on sustained investment in our infrastructure. London First campaigned for Crossrail from our inception in 1992. It took 15 years to persuade government to commit to a scheme and services will only begin running in 2018. We need to start planning for the next generation of improvements now. That’s why I’m delighted that Andrew Adonis has agreed to help us begin the long-term task of planning its successor project.”

Andrew Adonis said: “HS2 will transform the UK’s north-south links, but complementary planning is required to effectively integrate it with London’s crowded underground networks. London First was instrumental in building a case for Crossrail that reached across business and politics and I am delighted to be working with them to assess the potential for a successor scheme.”

The group will form independent recommendations through an interim report in the New Year and a full report later in 2012.