IPA’s David Hancock says government should focus on getting Crossrail 1 finished first
One of the government’s most senior construction advisors is the latest high-profile transport expert to concede that Crossrail 2 is set to hit the buffers soon.
Doubts about whether the scheme will go ahead have been raised after the government said it plans to rewrite its rules to permit greater investment in areas such as the north of England and the Midlands.
The move follows years of complaints that the current system favours London and the South east.
Experts concede Crossrail 2 is the big-ticket scheme in London most at risk – especially given Crossrail 1 is years late and more than £3bn over budget.
David Hancock, construction director of the Infrastructure and Projects Authority, which advises the Treasury and the cabinet on the delivery of major projects, admitted: “One of the things that all departments have been asked to do is look at the return. It may not be that it’s [Crossrail 2] chopped. The sensible thing would be to push back until we’ve done Crossrail 1.”
He added: “It’s a ministerial decision to be made. At the moment we’re progressing on things until we’re told not to.”
Caroline Pidgeon, deputy chair of the London Assembly’s transport committee, told Building last week: ”I’m afraid I think Crossrail 2 is dead in the water for the next decade or two.”
Hancock (pictured) also said that if Crossrail 2 does make it out of the planning rooms, half of its estimated £30bn cost might have to come from the private sector.
“If you look at the amount of money that will be needed from industry and the City, my understanding is that it will be a higher percentage than it was for Crossrail. It might be something like a 50% requirement.”
Just under 3% of Crossrail 1 is privately funded with money coming from the City of London and Heathrow Airport among others.
Hancock admitted that Crossrail 1’s woes have been exacerbated by trying to build it to a deadline years away in the future which it was always likely to miss.
He said: “We are forcing people on a project that’s billions of pounds and many interfaces and very complex – to drop it on a sixpence, on a particular day, it’s perverse, really.”
The latest deadline for Crossrail’s opening is now summer 2021 – although Transport for London, which is funding it along with the Treasury, has said it expects the railway to open towards the end of that year. It had originally been due to open at the end of 2018 and was then given a revised opening window of between October this year and March next.