Capacity Enhancement Projects (Supplementary) [18]

Session date: 
December 6, 2006
Question By: 
Bob Neill
Organisation: 
GLA Conservatives
Asked Of: 
Peter Hendy (Commissioner, Transport for London)

Question

I think you and I would agree about the desirability of Crossrail being funded, but whenever I talk to colleagues who seem to have spent half their lives in the House of Commons on the Bill Committee, they frankly say: `We think we may be wasting our time because there is absolutely no prospect of the money coming from Government'. What concerns me is that we have seen the Treasury, quite wrongly as I think you and I agree, fighting like cats in a sack over the Woolwich station, which is a tiny percentage of the cost, but clearly essential for regeneration purposes.

Will you be making representations to the Chancellor, who is making his statement after all today, to try and get some greater clarity on Crossrail? Unless we have some agreement from the Government on Crossrail there will not be any credibility of the likelihood of funding of any of the rest of this package.

Answer

Answer for Capacity Enhancement Projects (Supplementary) [18]

Answer for Capacity Enhancement Projects (Supplementary) [18]

Answered By: 
Peter Hendy (Commissioner, Transport for London)

I think your last point just is not right; Crossrail is a mega project and it is on its own. Clearly there is no point in arguing for a station at Woolwich if the scheme cannot be funded at all.

One of the reasons we have done this 20 year look into the future is to point out, as much as anything else, what happens if you do not do these schemes. One of the consequences of it, as the Mayor has said, is that there will come a point at which you cannot give planning permission for any further developments in the West End, the City or Canary Wharf because you simply will not be able to get any more people there. Now, I think that that would create very serious damage to this city and it will create very serious damage to its pre-eminence as a financial centre and the contribution it makes to the national economy. That is the case we are making.

Equally, as I said in my opening remarks, I believe that in our recent interviews with government ministers, both from the Treasury and the Department of Transport, it is accepted now that the case for Crossrail has been made; the issue is how you fund it. There are a number of ways of funding it. It does not all have to come from Government funds. I referred to the Transport Innovation Fund which is set up either to reduce congestion or increase productivity and which, over a period of years, does show the sorts of sums of money, totalling low billions, that could fund Crossrail.

There is another source of funding which I have not referred to at all yet for Crossrail but which is immediately obvious with knowledge like yours, which is that since part of it is on Network Rail assets, both east and west of London, it is quite within the bounds of probability that part of the cost of it could be included and put on their regulated asset base. I do not know what Government's intention is in that regard, but you do not have to be Einstein to work out that that is a possibility because it would enhance and replace existing national rail services.

I think that we agree, because you are very perceptive about it, that the damage to the economy that failing to allow Central London, the City and Canary Wharf to expand would create is not one that we can contemplate. We continue to argue very strongly for this project, if only because, and as Eddington acknowledged, there is not any suitable alternative to providing this capacity.