The Department for Transport (DfT) has said that it will not provide any more money for the stalled Crossrail project, despite a claim in this week’s National Infrastructure Strategy that the Government is ‘financing its completion’.
It was reported this week that London’s transport commissioner, Andy Byford, had written to the DfT, seeking an immediate cash injection to keep the cross-London rail project going and avoid what he called the ‘Doomsday scenario’ of mothballing it.
Part of the Tottenham Court Road Crossrail station
On Thursday, Mr Byford told the Evening Standard that the project had gone a further £1.1bn beyond its current funding and that with the Greater London Authority (GLA) putting up £825m, the Government should provide the remaining £275m.
He warned that London would become a ‘laughing stock’ if the project was shut down, which would happen this week if financial guarantees are not received.
The National Infrastructure Strategy, published on Wednesday states: ‘The government is continuing to address capacity issues in the capital, by financing the completion of Crossrail.’
However when Transport Network asked the DfT about the extra cash needed for the project a spokesperson said: ‘The Government remains committed to the efficient completion of the project, in a way that is fair to UK taxpayers, and that ensures London - as the primary beneficiary of Crossrail – bears the additional costs.
‘We are working with the Greater London Authority and Transport for London to develop a funding solution to see Crossrail’s completion.’
The statement that London must bear the additional costs is in clear contradiction to the statement in the National Infrastructure Strategy, which is the Government’s flagship plan for infrastructure, including transport.
Political as well as financial reasons could explain the discrepancy. DfT and TfL have been locked in bitter negotiations over funding, with the Conservative government applying pressure to the Labour mayor ahead of the upcoming election next May.
While on the other hand the infrastructure strategy was at pains to reassure the public that ‘levelling up the rest of the UK does not mean levelling London down’ - hence the claim that the Government ‘has agreed that Transport for London will stop development on Crossrail 2’.