Wednesday, 1 October 2008


Now, the Crossrail concept is discussed here. Unlike Crossrail 2 however, this one looks like it might get built. On balance this would be a good thing, but for the ever-pervasive problem of value for money. Crossrail 1 is going to be immensely expensive (current estimate £16bn), and yet, as with Crossrail 2, what it brings to the table in terms of new services is not what it ought to be.

Unlike Crossrail 2, this project does plug into a major commuter route out to Maidenhead (which could conceivably be extended to Reading, (high-speed train competition notwithstanding), but in the east falls short at Shenfield. (Why isn't it reaching Southend?).

The London Transport Users Committee had this to say on the matter:

LTUC note that the draft train service specification for west of Paddington has few of the features of a metro service and some stations (e.g. Hanwell) with only 2 tph would have a service that is completely inadequate. Burnham – current off-peak journey times to and from Paddington are 25 and 29 minutes respectively. Crossrail will increase the journey time to 38 minutes. Taplow – improved service off peak from one train per hour to two per hour. Current off peak journey time to and from Paddington between 29 and 35 minutes. Crossrail will increase the journey time to 43 minutes.

Crossrails south-eastern branch would offer extra capacity for growth of rail traffic in Kent, but does little to improve rail facilities in Thurrock or South Essex, in that there would be no station east of Custom House and that the regenerated Stratford area would not be directly served. Although some may argue for a service to cover this area, LTUC would not be in support for a third eastern branch of Crossrail. It may be that the existing c2c route via Tilbury to Fenchurch Street can be developed to meet the rail needs of Thames Gateway North, but we are concerned that little work appears to have been done to verify this and that no section of the rail industry seems to be taking full responsibility for this issue. LTUC also believe a station at Silvertown should be built from the outset, instead of passive provision. This would enable a short pedestrian or bus link to London City Airport.

Through central London Crossrail 1 is little more than a big fat Central line, linking the same old stations again, which are likely to collapse soon under their own gargantuan complexity, whilst peripheral neighbourhoods languish. Overall number of new stations for London? Technically 2 - Woolwich and Isle of Dogs, but both are a stone's throw from existing stations. We could say that no new neighbourhoods are being served therefore. NONE!

Does this represent value for money? (They say £16bn at the moment but it'll be 6 times what anyone tells you!) Not really, not whilst Chelsea, Battersea, Camberwell, Walworth, Peckham, Hackney etc. etc. don't have a single tube station amongst them. Add to this projected services that are slower and not significantly more frequent than current timetables.

New extensions to the Northern Line, Bakerloo line, and Waterloo and City could be achieved for 1bn Euros (if Madrid Metro were in charge, at 2003 prices and with Spanish base costs). Even if you conservatively multiply that figure by four, to 4bn Euros, it's less than a quarter of Crossrail 1's projected cost. That, including 21 new station sites in south London, as opposed to the TWO that Crossrail 1 offers. You do the math...

No comments: