We’re going to build Crossrail 2 and the private sector is going to pay for it.

On 3 April 2017, Craig McWilliam, Chief Executive, Grosvenor Britain & Ireland, wrote the following opinion piece in CityAM on Crossrail 2, which coincided with a new report from the Westminster Property Association.

24th April 2017

On 3 April 2017, Craig McWilliam, Chief Executive, Grosvenor Britain & Ireland, wrote the following opinion piece in CityAM on Crossrail 2, which coincided with a new report from the Westminster Property Association.

Passengers crammed on to the Central, District, Circle and Piccadilly Lines are gasping for the opening of the Elizabeth Line, running from west to east, from Heathrow to Canary Wharf and beyond, late next year.

But what about Londoners packed on to the north-south Northern, Victoria, Bakerloo and Jubilee Lines who suffer from similar over-crowding every day?

For them hope lies with Crossrail 2, a plan to link stations from Tottenham Hale and beyond in north east London to the commuter belt of Wimbledon. This important piece of new infrastructure is being promoted by the mayor, Transport for London and Network Rail. It has public support and the backing of business leaders. Government is considering the funding case.

The benefits of Crossrail 2 are great. This infrastructure would provide 30 new trains an hour to beat congestion and meet demand. It would expand London’s rail capacity by 10 per cent, with packed-out Waterloo particularly benefiting.

It would support 60,000 jobs across the country in its construction, and more than 100,000 jobs once opened. It could support the delivery of 200,000 new homes along the length of its line.

And critically, it could be partly paid for by the private sector in Central London.

Today the Westminster Property Association, representing 270 companies including London’s biggest landlords Grosvenor,  British Land, Land Securities, The Crown Estate and Derwent London, strengthens its call on the government to back Crossrail 2 for London and the UK.

A new report, Crossrail 2: Catalyst for Growth in Central London, authored by international property adviser JLL, argues that unleashing Central London’s potential could help fund Crossrail 2.

Private sector funding could come from the creation of great, much-needed new places in the country’s most economically productive district – the West End. With Crossrail 2, the West End could viably support more enterprise. And the commercial development of new employment space to host that enterprise could in turn help pay for Crossrail 2 through development taxes or local retention.

This would ensure London pays for half the cost of the railway.

With public sector commitment to Crossrail 2, private capital and co-ordination would flow into Central London, driving regeneration, and delivering new amenities and public realm improvements.

In short, Crossrail 2 would create great places, not just a vital railway line. And with the creation of these great places, hosting more jobs, the private sector could contribute more to the cost of the railway.

Opportunities could be found in the corridor on Crossrail 2’s route from Victoria to Tottenham Court Road and Euston for dense, well-designed, mixed neighbourhoods and commercial districts.

If government can commit to a funding deal for this new railway, the private sector can respond with new investment, and a greater share of London’s taxes can be used to fund this new infrastructure.

At the heart of the capital, the West End has enormous potential for the great places that make London so special. It is also the most productive part of the country, more so than the City of London.

The opening of the Elizabeth Line will transform it, but will also create greater access to, demand for and pressure on the West End. On Oxford Street alone it will disgorge 120,000 more people every day, a 40 per cent increase on today.

So we can’t afford to stop here. The West End drives London’s success. London’s success supports jobs around the country and fills the Treasury’s coffers with a third of the UK’s tax revenues. Crossrail 2 can help underpin the UK’s growth.

The economic case for this vital piece of infrastructure is strong, the benefits are national, and the opportunity should be taken. Private sector leaders in Central London stand ready to play their part.

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