Crossrail and HS2 – from last week’s transport questions

From Hansard for Thursday 25th April. Earlier discussion included East Coast Main Line franchise.

Lyn Brown (West Ham) (Lab): What steps he plans to take to address the effects of High Speed 2 on London; and whether he has assessed the case for Crossrail 2. [153154]

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Mr Simon Burns): HS2 Ltd is carrying out an environmental impact assessment on the London-west midlands phase of HS2 to look at the potential impacts and proposed mitigation measures. The aim is to consult on a draft environmental statement shortly.

The Government have made no decision on Crossrail 2, and it is currently unfunded. Under devolution, the Mayor and Transport for London are responsible for transport in London, including the route options for Crossrail 2.

Lyn Brown: I thank the Minister for that answer. Following about £1 billion-worth of investment, Stratford has an international train station but, sadly, it currently has no stopping international trains. Given that investment, Stratford should surely be a transport hub, fully interconnecting HS1, HS2, Crossrail 1 and Crossrail 2 with domestic and underground services. That would not only provide superb interconnectivity, but relieve stress on central London terminals. Will the Minister provide leadership?

Mr Burns: I always try to provide leadership, Mr Speaker. I fully understand the valid point that the hon. Lady makes, but there are consideration problems with her proposition. HS2 Ltd did consider whether Stratford should be the primary terminus for HS2 services and others. Its advice was that locating the principal HS2 terminus outside central London would not meet the needs of the majority of the passengers who will use the service or make best use of the wider London transport network. There would also be physical problems with the need to build an additional 10 platforms, given the geographic size of the site at Stratford.

Christopher Pincher (Tamworth) (Con): My concerns about HS2 will come as no surprise to my right hon. Friend, but is he surprised at the concerns of UKIP, which, quite apart from believing that every last Bulgarian and Romanian is about to hitchhike their way to London, is opposed to HS2, whereas in 2010 it did not support just one high-speed line, but three?

Mr Burns: My hon. Friend raises a very interesting point. As you will know as a politician yourself, Mr Speaker, if one makes promises, they must have some validity and credibility, and one must have the ability to fund them. As my hon. Friend rightly said, the UKIP manifesto at the last election, which you probably read more than most of us, Mr Speaker, stated that it would:

“Invest in three new 200mph plus high-speed rail lines including a new line between London and Newcastle with a spur to Manchester, a London-Bristol-Exeter line and a linking route via Birmingham”.

It really is extraordinary—

Mr Speaker: Order. We will leave it there, although I have much enjoyed it. The Minister of State has many important responsibilities and no one in this House would disagree with the proposition that he always tries, which he advanced a few moments ago, but one thing for which he has no responsibility is the promises and policies of the United Kingdom Independence party.

Lilian Greenwood (Nottingham South) (Lab): There is a growing view that by the time the second phase of HS2 is complete, Crossrail 2 will be essential to cope with the additional passengers travelling through Euston station. Is the Minister content that last week’s revised plan for Euston addresses that problem, or will the DFT now take the sensible step of assessing fully the case for Crossrail 2?

Mr Burns: As the hon. Lady knows, Crossrail 2 is the responsibility of the Mayor of London because it is a devolved matter. However, I accept that there is a knock-on effect for other rail services that are wholly the responsibility of the DFT. The Mayor of London announced recently that there will be a full consultation process. We await that and look forward to seeing any business case or justification. Those matters will be considered in due course, but we have to go through the due processes first.

John Pugh (Southport) (LD): I was sentenced to two years on the Crossrail Bill Committee. HS2 is jam tomorrow; Crossrail is £6 billion now. Isn’t enough money spent on London proportionately at the moment?

Mr Burns: I strongly believe that there is an overwhelming case for high-speed rail in this country. Indeed, I would go further and say that we cannot afford not to have high-speed rail. I regret, as much as I suspect the hon. Gentleman does, going by his question, the length of time that it takes to establish any major project in this country, because it is not in the country’s best interests. However, it is certainly in the national interest to press ahead with a high-speed rail network throughout the country.

One comment to “Crossrail and HS2 – from last week’s transport questions”
  1. Playing the devolved game is one reason millions of people lost faith in the MPs in Government across the nation and time. From were does the wealth and borrowing come from.

    People suspect the window dressing whilst many hundreds lose the capital from housing and farms is very irresponsible. This is not leadership but abandonment of realities. If Crossrail 2 which is possible more important than the current concept of HS2 is left to the Mayor of London alone it cannot not be funded to the +£2B.

    A railway linking Watford to Elstree and into St Pancras MML Kings Cross ECML andThameslink (expanded) through these and Victoria, Waterloo 4 main London stations to Clapham the 5th could be Crossrail 2 with a configuration of parallel lines to provide the next generation of London Underground. This will still leave some lines at staturation on the underground.

    The DFT railway approach and motorway approaches of maybe one day with significant expense for the engineering of a most narrow HS2 low priority longer term project seems to be more about costly pretence than any action that brings real improvements.

    How does the UK come back to reality and deal with the economic despair for millions and shelve these too large to fund projects.

    Time to realise the aspirations are beyond the possible currently and other needs are more important for securing the energy and electricity supply.

    Next the North West and North East will be devolved to earn from the off the coast shale gas belt which the current Government is also not funding but ready to tax when others try to develop the fields.

    Time to recognise the county elections were a score on performance and this was lower than required to lift the nations wealth and work levels. Economics beat politics and will do so long a the situation remains bleak through mismangement of priorities. Can the HMG realise the despair from the counties or is it just a your turn no game regardless of the situation millions are alarmed at. A Queens speech commitment on HS2 will determine the HMG is not serious about the seriousness of the situation in the UK.

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