What Is Crossrail?

Cross London Rail Links (Crossrail) is a 50/50 joint venture company formed by Transport for London (TfL) and the Department for Transport (DfT).Crossrail is tasked with promoting and developing two new routes through London: Crossrail line 1 (East-West) and Crossrail line 2 (NorthEast-SouthWest).Crossrail has been allocated a budget of £154m by central Government to carry out feasibility work on both lines and secure the statutory approvals needed to build line 1.

History of the Projects

As far back as the late nineteenth century schemes were being explored to enable the railways to penetrate right into and through central London.
In 1836 Robert Stephenson (co-inventor with his father George of the Rocket and engineer of the London & Birmingham Railway) had prepared plans to extend his newly completed main line beyond the Euston terminus in tunnel under Gower Street and Covent Garden to the Savoy Wharf on the Thames.

However, due to the problems of running steam traction below ground these schemes never reached fruition.

With the invention of electric traction it became possible to promote and build underground railways in London. With the limitations of tunnelling technology in the late 19th and early 20th centuries these were mostly built to "Tube-gauge" diameter, preventing their connection to the fast expanding commuter and express railways above ground. These Tube-gauge lines now form the backbone of today’s London Underground network.

Throughout the 20th century the Underground grew and so did London. The Railway Companies continued to deliver passengers to the termini at the edges of the business districts and the passengers continued their journeys on the Underground. By the late 1980s it was clear that options to run more trains over existing tracks were reaching the limits of capacity. The Government then commissioned a study to investigate how this problem could be solved.

The Central London Rail Study of 1989 proposed three projects, East-West Crossrail (now Crossrail Line 1), a new Underground line to link Wimbledon and Hackney (now Crossrail Line 2) and an extension of the Jubilee line. Work was started by London Transport and British Rail to develop these schemes.

In 1991 a Bill was submitted to Parliament for the East-West scheme. Unfortunately in 1994 the bill was rejected as the then recession temporarily depressed passenger journeys into and through the capital.

Despite the decision not to proceed the government issued Safeguarding Directions to protect the alignments of the lines through Central London, to ensure that no developments would be built which would prevent the schemes from ever being built.

In 2000, with both the Underground and National Rail networks now suffering record levels of congestion and a resulting decline in service reliability, the Government asked the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) to study the requirements for extra passenger capacity to and through London. The London East West Study recommended that both the East-West and Hackney-SouthWest routes be resurrected and schemes developed to construct them.

To achieve this aim a unique 50/50 Joint Venture company was formed called Cross London Rail Links Ltd (CLRL). This company is now responsible for defining the routes, as wells as developing and promoting these two new railways.

Efficient transport systems are the key to reducing travel congestion and disruption. Crossrail line 1 and Crossrail line 2 represent probably the most important infrastructure developments for the Capital and the UK as a whole.

There are serious implications in not building Crossrail. Congestion on an already overcrowded system will worsen and conditions for passengers will suffer. There is also the potential that, faced with a failing transport infrastructure, international business will relocate to Europe, away from the UK altogether.

Crossrail will:

Establish a brand new network of services linking areas across London and beyond. Allow existing suburban rail services to run through London. Reduce overcrowding on Underground lines as well as reducing congestion at a number of busy National Rail stations. Provide a major boost to the development of London’s integrated transport network.Ensure that features such as full access for mobility impaired people are included as an integrated part of the design.

By bringing about these improvements, Crossrail will make a significant contribution to tackling the problems facing the infrastructure of the South East.

The overall objectives of CLRL are to support the continuing development of London as a World City, and its role as the key financial centre of the UK and Europe, to support its economic growth and its regeneration areas by tackling the lack of capacity and congestion on the existing network, and to improve rail access into and within London.

Specifically Crossrail needs to:

Support the wider transport, planning, social and environmental objectives of the Government’s 10 Year Plan, the Mayor’s Strategies for London, the Strategic Rail Authority’s Strategic Plan and Regional Planning Guidance Relieve congestion and overcrowding on the existing National Rail and Underground networks and support the development of a network of strategic interchanges Facilitate the continued development of London’s primary finance and business service activities, which are now located in both the City and Docklands Facilitate the improvement of London’s international links, including Heathrow Facilitate the regeneration of priority areas, such as the Thames Gateway and the Lea Valley Provide improved east-west rail access into and across London from the East and South East regions
To meet these objectives Crossrail needs to be feasible from both operational and engineering points of view, environmentally acceptable and value for money.


The Lines

Crossrail presented its interim business case to the Government in Spring 2003 on the feasibility, costs and financing of options for the route of Crossrail line 1 route. A more detailed business case was presented in July 2003. Following this, The Secretary of State asked for consultations on what is now the preferred route and Crossrail undertook its first round of public consultation between October and December 2003, followed by a second round between August and October 2004.

In July, 2004, the secretary of state for transport asked Crossrail to prepare a hybrid Bill for submission to Parliament ‘at the earliest opportunity’. The Queen’s speech in November announced that a bill is to be presented in the current session and the team is now completing the required documents to be deposited.

This selection of options is based on the preferred route meeting the following criteria:
The ability to support the development of London as a World City and its role as the key financial centre of the UK and Europe. The ability to facilitate the improvement of London’s international links. The ability to support London’s economic growth and regeneration. The ability to tackle the lack of capacity and congestion on the existing network.

The same criteria will be applied to selecting the options for Crossrail line 2 although the programme for this route is not as far advanced as those for Crossrail line 1.

Crossrail line 1 Summary

Crossrail line 1 will create a brand new network of services linking areas to the east and west of London. The heart of the project is the construction of a new tunnelled route across London, with new stations at Liverpool Street, Farringdon, Tottenham Court Road, Bond Street and Paddington. Crossrail Line 1 will, for the first time, allow existing suburban rail services to run through London offering a range of possible services to areas such as Romford and Shenfield to the east, and Maidenhead to the west. Crossrail Line 1 also includes an option to serve Heathrow Airport.

Crossrail line 2 Summary

Crossrail line 2 would create a brand new network of services linking areas to the north east and south west of London. The heart of the project is the construction of a core section in tunnel through the centre of London, between Victoria and King’s Cross with an interchange with Crossrail line 1 at Tottenham Court Road. new stations at Victoria, Piccadilly Circus, Tottenham Court Road and King’s Cross St Pancras. Crossrail line 2 would allow existing northeast and southwest suburban rail services to be linked across London.

Featured suppliers on this project: