While the spending review has cast doom and gloom over many areas, one thing left unharmed by George Osborne’s decisions is Crossrail.
The project received relatively minor cuts to its budget in the spending review. The price has been trimmed by £1.5billion to £14.5bn, while other transport in London did not fare so well, with bus fares set to rise to £1.30 per journey, and the price of weekly travelcard for central London will rise by £1.80 to £27.60.
Caroline Pidgeon, Leader of the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group, said of the decision not to abandon the Crossrail plans: “This is good news for London and Londoners. When difficult short term decisions are having to be made in so many areas it is excellent news that long term plans to improve transport in London have not been compromised”
She continued: “Crossrail is needed to provide improvements in London’s transport capacity. It will play a critical role in helping London’s economy to continue to grow and it will ensure that London remains attractive for international investment for many years to come. Just as importantly it will play a key role in regeneration of some of London’s poorest communities, including Thamesmead and the East End of London. Crossrail proceeding is good news for London and Londoners.”
Crossrail particularly brings good news to boroughs along the East London Line, as works in Whitechapel are expected to create new jobs and boost East London’s economy, the constructors say.
The 118 km railway will employ up to 14,000 people at the peak of its construction in 2013/2015 with an estimated further 7000 jobs created indirectly.
In overall numbers the benefit of Crossrail to the UK economy is at least £36 billion (TfL figures, May 2006), while the annual economic benefit across all of London’s boroughs is estimated at £1.24 billion at 2008 prices.
According to a study published in February 2009 the key benefits will include faster journey times, reduced public transport congestions, improved productivity and higher earnings.
Kulveer Ranger, the Mayor of London’s transport adviser commented that:”Crossrail is crucial to the regeneration of East London. This development is about investing in a great design, which reflects the views of local residents at the best value for money. I am delighted to see the plans coming together for a truly exciting development.”
The Crossrail is expected to be ready by 2018 and it will link Heathrow Airport, the West End, the City of London, and Canary Wharf. It will be carrying more than 1500 passengers in each train during peak periods.
Though Crossrail may have escaped the cuts unscathed, other areas in Tower Hamlets have not been so lucky, with many saying the cuts have fallen on the borough “disproportionately” in social housing and the public sector. To read more about this see other articles on East London Lines.