Thursday, 15 April 2010

Tories may scrap Crossrail

Speaking on the Nick Ferrari showon LBC this morning Justine Greening for the Conservatives revealed that they could scrap the Crossrail scheme if elected to Government. This is the same scheme, you might remember, that business leaders big and small throughout London have said is vital for London to remain competitive and grow. And that the Conservatives pledged they would see built.

To my knowledge this is the first time the Tories have revealed a lack of support for the scheme, and for West London this would have a particularly severe impact, one of the stations being slated for our neck of the woods at Acton Main Line.

Just as Shaun Bailey quite rightly trumpeted the support he received from 50 small businesses in Shepherd's Bush and Hammersmith over his National Insurance campaign, I wonder if he'll be canvassing their opinions on this new development in Tory policy? 

Labour has not been slow to react with Transport Secretary Lord Adonis saying: 

"The Tories' supposed commitment to Crossrail lasted just two days. Now Justine Greening has exposed the weasel words in the Tory manifesto for what they are.

"This sends an alarming message to business in and around the capital, to Londoners, and also calls into question the extent of their commitment to all other infrastructure projects, including high speed rail.

"Crossrail will deliver thousands of jobs, cut journey times across the capital, and deliver a huge boost to business. Only Labour is fully committed to making this project happen."

The transcript of what Justine Greening said on LBC is here:
JG:        We, we can’t, we can’t give a line by line budget on projects across government, including Crossrail.  Everything’s up for review but we think it’s important.
I’m sure this is my stupidity.  Will it continue or won’t it continue?
I can’t give a guarantee that it will continue.
So it might not, it can go the other way?  The Conservatives could scrap Crossrail?
It’s possible but at the end of the day we’ve always said that we think it’s important project and, and actually the reason this is important is we, we want to be responsible so we can’t pretend that we can write an entire budget outside of government. We’ve said we’ll do one within 50 days of getting into government if we get elected and we will then provide some clarity and certainty.
Justine Greening, Nick Ferrari, 15 April 2010

UPDATE 1500 - Liberal Democrat Assembly Transport Spokesperson and Chair of the London Assembly Transport Committee, Caroline Pidgeon has released a statement that says:

"The Conservatives are all over the place when it comes to Crossrail.
"The Conservative Mayor of London never tires of boasting about his support for the project and Conservative run Kensington and Chelsea Council are even demanding a further new station which will add to the cost of the project.

"Yet at the same time a London Conservative MP, speaking on behalf of the national party, is simply unable to provide a clear assurance that this much needed project will be completed."  


  1. It doesn't matter which party gets in, they still might have to scrap Crossrail.

    People don't seem to have admitted it yet - if we have a national deficit of £159 billion and a national debt of £950 billion (see there will have to be serious cuts.

    Do we really want to be spending more on interest payments than on all other Government expenditure (schools, hospitals etc)?

    I personally really want Crossrail to continue, as it is necessary for London, however there simply isn't enough money to pay for all these projects.

    We have to be realistic and that means admitting that projects could be scrapped.

    I don't understand why people think national finances are any different to personal finances. Would you really advise a friend to take another mortgage out if they were struggling to pay back what they already owe...?

    ps I'm a Tory voter but think all the parties are being equally irresponsible on this...

  2. I agree.

    And Crossrail is not a universally good thing.

    10 years ago, it was costed at £2bn. Now it's £16bn. By the time it's built, can we expect a similar increase? Let alone the kind of overruns that happened on the Jubilee Line extension?

    And the environmental impact will be severe - by which i mean the disruption, noise, traffic and green spaces commandeered to dispose of the enormous amount of tunnelling waste.

    And after all that, it's replicating existing routes. Not opening up any new areas of London, just running alongside the central line.

    And given that the private sector is supposed to be funding the massive debt it will incur, what happens if they default, or funding collapses? We'll have to pick up the bill again. Possibly at a similar level to the banks.

    Meanwhile, the fares all over London will skyrocket to fund it.

    For what? Really? What *exactly* is the benefit that makes this worth it?

    Acton Main Line? Big deal, we can get to everywhere on Crossrail by the Central line - from Shepherds Bush, not Acton. Heathrow is 15-20 mins by car/cab. It'll take longer by Crossrail. And we already have the Pic line from Hammersmith.

    I commend the Tories for being (a little bit) honest about this.

  3. Hi both, their main argument is potential new investors

  4. Tens of billions of dollars worth of overseas investment that wouldn't happen without a new tube line that does pretty much what the old one does...? No, it'd have to be *hundreds* of billions to be a really worthwhile ROI.
    I don't buy it. Doesn't persuade me that it's worth the huge cost & risks.

  5. and also, no direct benefit for W12 either.

  6. I think it would be great for London (and W12) if there were the money to pay for it. There isn't any money - no amount of wishful thinking can change that fact.


    ps Brilliant blog representing London's greatest neighbourhood by the way...

  7. er, i might run alongside the central line, but it will be adding much needed new capacity, and offer through services for mainline trains FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER!
    compare with paris, which has 5 similar schemes!

  8. Osborne commits to keeping Crossrail -