New funding deals and government assurances convince former mayoral candidate that rail link will go ahead

Former mayoral candidate Steven Norris has said he is confident that Crossrail will be built, despite continued worries over how the project will be funded.

Norris had previously expressed severe scepticism that the £15.9bn scheme would actually get built because of the complexity of the funding arrangements, and the fact that it was reliant on levering in private money in the midst of a property downturn.

Speaking at Mipim on the day Crossrail announced its project partner for the scheme, Norris said that recent government assurances and the signing of funding deals with the City of London and Canary Wharf had caused him to change his mind.

Crossrail train
Crossrail cancellation at this stage would be "phenomenally embarrassing to the prime minister", said Norris

Norris said: “I've become much more confident in recent months. I was an arch sceptic, but there have been very positive signs by the government. And, if I'm being cynical, it's got to that stage where it'd be phenomenally embarrassing to the prime minister if it was cancelled.”

He said he had been reassured that the property sector would be able to make its contribution because much of that money would not be needed until later years of the project, by when he hoped values would have recovered.

Part of the London contribution towards Crossrail's cost is being funded by a levy on planning permissions, part by extra rates paid by London businesses, and part by sales of property owned by Transport for London.

Norris also predicted that developers would start to see some signs of recovery in the market by the end of the year. He said: “You might even see a green shoot or two in the course of the next 12 months.