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Crystal clear case for Crossrail 2 at London Infrastructure Summit

Business leaders highlighted their key asks of Government at this year’s London Infrastructure Summit – with Crossrail 2 and housing high on the agenda.

The case for Crossrail 2 is crystal clear – and business is firmly behind it. So said London First Chief Executive Jasmine Whitbread, calling for Crossrail 2 to be given the green light to proceed and not shunted into the sidings as initially happened with Crossrail 1 – comments picked up in City AM.

Crossrail 2 Managing Director, Michèle Dix reiterated that a decision is needed “pretty soon” to move Crossrail 2 into construction in the early 2020s and operational by the early 2030s. She noted how the line would contribute some 200,000 new homes and jobs and £150bn net GDP, while Transport Minister Lord Callanan highlighted how Crossrail 1 generated jobs and investment across the UK. Speakers were united on the need to invest in cities’ transport networks north and south.

Funding is now the main challenge facing Crossrail 2, and a wide range of additional funding options were discussed over the course of the day, building on London’s experience with the Crossrail 1 funding package. The need for further fiscal devolution, on the lines set out by Tony Travers and the London Finance Commission, was a common point.

Also championing Crossrail 2 was Mark Carne of Network Rail, who set out his vision for London’s rail network. This includes delivering £10bn worth of projects, including the Thameslink programme and Waterloo upgrade. Harnessing digital technologies will increasingly be key to keeping up with the demands of the modern customer.

Taking action to increase London’s housing supply was a central theme of the day. Deputy Mayor Jules Pipe emphasised housing as a Mayoral priority, with contributors across the day highlighting the importance of new transport schemes and wider infrastructure upgrades if the additional housing London needs is to be unlocked.

Brexit loomed over proceedings throughout, but came centre stage when London’s airports united to call for a deal on future air travel rights to be prioritized during Brexit negotiations. “Robust” transitional arrangements must be put in place that are both passenger friendly and cargo friendly (See City AM piece here). London’s airports also need government support for their individual growth plans and for improvements to surface transport links.

Broadening out the debate, Deputy Mayor Shirley Rodrigues presented the Mayor’s draft environment strategy. Making London cleaner and greener will require investment in our energy, water and waste infrastructure, comments echoed by speakers in the ‘future London’ session. Deputy Mayor Val Shawcross similarly set out the draft transport strategy, focused on the Mayor’s ambitions for ‘healthy streets’.

Bringing the day to a close were Lord Adonis of the National Infrastructure Commission and Transport commissioner Mike Brown. Lord Adonis urged delegates to avoid being distracted by Brexit and to focus on securing the investment in infrastructure that cities like London so badly need. He informed delegates that the NIC will be publishing their long-awaited National Infrastructure Assessment in Birmingham next month, accompanied by metro Mayors from the West Midlands, Greater Manchester and London.

Mike Brown struck an optimistic tone for London transport, while warning against complacency. Progress continued to be made in modernizing London’s transport network and in streamlining TfL itself, but big challenges remained ahead. Mike also emphasised the importance of getting daily performance right, revealing he sends a daily 7am email to the Mayor, No 10 and other key organisations updating on service performance across London’s Tube, rail and roads.

It was left to conference chair John Dickie of London First to bring the day to a close. John thanked all contributors and invited delegates to work with London First over the coming year to champion Crossrail 2 and housing, shape emerging Mayoral strategies and ensure delivery of key planned projects like the Heathrow 3rd runway.

See video here.

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