Crossing Kings Cross and Crossrail…..

Crossrailroute Crossrail has recently got the go-ahead but it isn’t clear what it means for Kings Cross.  The line will run like an East-West Thameslink – or a bit like the Paris RER.  The City will stump up some of the cash – which is a welcome principle of the beneficiaries paying when they can afford it.  The excellent alwaystouchout site says:

‘The core of the Crossrail scheme is the tunnel connecting the line into Paddington in the west to the lines out of Liverpool St in the east. Stations are proposed at Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road, and Farringdon…..In the west…Crossrail will stop at all stations on the GWML out to Heathrow. These include Acton Main Line, Ealing Broadway, West Ealing, Hanwell, Southall and Hayes & Harlington.’

So by going one stop East from Kings Cross to Farringdon you could change onto a nice big train all the way to Heathrow (10 stops) or heading East to Stratford (3 stops) or Canary Wharf/Isle of Dogs (4 stops) (route map here).  But it won’t be terribly quick to Heathrow as the 15 minute, overpriced Heathrow Express will continue to provide the fast service from Paddington.  I’d guess about 40 minutes, which would be an improvement door to door on the current options.  One of the criticisms of CrossRail was that is doesn’t come to Kings Cross/StPancras Intl.  But I guess the tunnelling was too complex, given the challenges of the existing re-build.

It is hard to predict the precise effect of this route – in complex systems, such as London transport new capacity tends initially to reduce pressure in the system overall.  Then, as people adjust to the new travel patterns the system tends to fill up again as the overall capacity of the network increases (see the Jubilee Line before and after its extension).  At a rough guess, but I should be very interested in people’s views we might see the following:

  • people going East-West-East will have a new alternative to the Circle/H’smith and City and Met lines along the top of Zone One and the Picadilly line to commute from the West to the City
  • there will be a real alternative to the Picadilly Line for large numbers of people in transit via Heathrow – esp for tourists going to Russell Square area who can get off at Tottenham Court Road who will have more room for their luggage on a big train.
  • it suddenly gets much easier to get to Isle of Dogs/Custom House (5 stops) from KX. City Airport is suddenly very attractive
  • Farringdon will get very busy indeed as loads of people arriving at KX/StP use it to change for CrossRail to Heathrow or the City
  • some Eurostar passengers and many commuters from Kent will get off at Stratford to get on CrossRail rather than come to StP/KX

Overall though any CrossRail reduction in overcrowding for people suffering on transport around Kings Cross will be barely perceptible.  The hordes arriving on the Eurostar and Kent express service and the tens of thousands working in the Railway Lands will have completely rammed out the existing public transport systems long before CrossRail is operational in 2015.  There was a competing proposal for something called Superlink (here) that would have added North/South capacity to relieve the Stanstead Express, the Cambridge line, Northampton/Milton Keynes route and Thameslink.  This makes sense given the vast amounts of housing planned for the Northampton area and woudl probably have brought more relief to Kings Cross.  But it never really got off the ground.

CrossRail has one of those irony-free corporate now on YouTube (I suspect made by the team
who produce the ‘best a man can get’ or ‘roller skating with dogs’ ads). Mind the reality gap everyone.

About William Perrin

Active in Kings Cross London and South Oxfordshire, founder of Talk About Local, helping people find a voice online and a trustee of The Indigo Trust and Tinder Foundation.
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One Response to Crossing Kings Cross and Crossrail…..

  1. Residents Society of Mayfair and St James's says:

    The Residents Society of Mayfair and St James’s believes that London deserves much better than Crossrail least of all because of the harm it will cause in East and West London. The Society is supportive of public transport schemes provided they are lawful, provide value for taxpayers’ money and do not cause unnecessary harm. The present Crossrail scheme fails on all these counts.
    Many journalists are now beginning to question the funding of the Crossrail scheme as the Olympics has shown that taxpayers’ require proper scrutiny of schemes seeking public funding in advance of being given the go ahead not afterwards. Indeed, the Society share the view of some in Whitehall as stated in the FT previously that: “the project’s backers are likely to keep cost projections as low as possible to secure approval”.

    The backers of Crossrail want two-thirds of Londoners and tube passengers to pay for a Crossrail scheme that will alleviate congestion for passengers on the central line and benefit the UK’s richest community, namely the City and Canary Wharf. MPs will vote on the Crossrail Bill at the Third Reading soon without knowing the true cost to taxpayers or tube passengers but the finances simply do not add up. Crossrail is presently estimated at £17 billion + and yet BAA, Canary Wharf and the City Corporation are offering to contribute less than a billion. Oddly, the Government claims the rest of the money will come from fares, a levy on London business rates but provide no details and make no mention of the burden of taxpayers. However, Crossrail fares will only raise £200 million p.a. and the proposed business contribution is ring fenced and time sensitive. So where does the rest of the money come from to pay for Crossrail and who will be left to pay for servicing the debt and the operational costs? It is clear that taxpayers will not be safeguarded from having to underwrite any additional costs unless Mr Brown offers the same protections afforded to the businesses set to benefit most from Crossrail.

    As it stands, the Government has nominated UK taxpayers to subsidise and underwrite the present Crossrail scheme, which primarily benefits the City and Canary Wharf. Londoners will not benefit from the property uplift at Canary Wharf and the Corporation of London in Central London. Yet oddly taxpayers are being asked to subsidise the scheme.

    Furthermore, independent analysts express doubts about the cost and economic viability of the Crossrail project. To this end, we asked the Treasury numerous questions about Crossrail on the aforementioned areas under the Freedom of Information Act on April 25, 2007 so that they could be analysed independently. We have received no response so it would seem the Government are reluctant to answer these questions. Crossrail appear to be short on facts. Indeed, the Parliamentary petition hearings have shown that when we ask for evidence or substantiation of claims of benefits and harm arising from the project – it is absent.

    The Society also asked the Government about the financial structuring of Crossrail and why taxpayers, Londoners and tube passengers have not been consulted. No protection is afforded from from having to pay higher fares and taxes for a Crossrail scheme, which is flawed, unlawful and destroys historic parts of residential London unnecessarily while simultaneously protecting development sites. No response has been received in relation to these specific questions. But the Government should take note that Londoners and UK taxpayers have not been consulted about whether they wish to subsidise a £17 billion + Crossrail scheme, which some say could cost as much as £30 billion.

    The railway planner, who helped plan and deliver the successful Jubilee Line and the lauded high speed Channel Tunnel Rail Link Michael Schabas, is sceptical about the benefits of the present Crossrail scheme. Mr Schabas should know as the Crossrail team retained him. In evidence, Mr Schabas says about the Crossrail scheme: “The analysis is so inadequate for a scheme of this size. Maybe if you are doing a garden shed, yes, but you are not supposed to do it this way.” In evidence at the Crossrail petition hearings, Mr Schabas who is a witness-in-fact also revealed Crossrail had refused to consider alternative routes on the central section despite a legal requirement to limit harm and having spent £400 million of taxpayers’ money. Mr Schabas has been denied the right to give evidence in public by the chair of the Crossrail Select Committee Labour MP Alan Meale. Mr Meale has given a variety of different reasons for preventing Michael Schabas from giving evidence in public. We understand Mr Meale’s last reason was he wanted to protect Mr Schabas as he was giving evidence on oath. Mr Schabas has said he has not asked or requested protection but he does want the right to give evidence on oath in public on Crossrail’s refusal to consider alternative routes and not in private as Mr Meale desires. Mr Schabas went on to say that Crossrail claim to “systematically and carefully look at all these alternatives, and that to me is exactly what has not been done in going through these points, and when I read this, not only has it not been done, but it is laughable.” Unfortunately, Mr Schabas has been denied the opportunity to give full evidence on Crossrail’s refusal to consider alternative routes in public by the Crossrail Committee chair Labour MP Alan Meale on no less than two occasions, one of which disclosed Crossrail’s own documents showing that a less harmful alternative route had been dismissed without justification. http://www.parliament.the-stationery-office.com/pa/cm200607/cmselect/cmcross/uc235-vi/uc23502.htm
    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200607/cmselect/cmcross/uc235-xvi/uc23502.htm
    A residents group in Spitalfields, the Woodseer and Hanbury Residents Association has disclosed a legal opinion, which says the Crossrail Bill is unlawful in its present form.

    Soon MPs will be asked to vote on Crossrail at the Third Reading without having information on what Crossrail will cost, if it is lawful, the taxpayers’ burden and the environmental harm it will cause. Oddly former transport secretary Douglas Alexander quotes shadow transport secretary Chris Grayling as saying: “Privately: it is the wrong project (bad route, too expensive) and we wouldn’t want to be associated with it.” In contrast, the Prime Minister seems keen to back Crossrail.

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