Tag Archives: crossrail

Caroline Pidgeon writes…Elizabeth Line: Much to celebrate, but much to learn as well

Today’s opening of the central section of Crossrail is something to celebrate.

The benefits from Crossrail (or the Elizabeth Line as it has become) will be immense.

It will transform travel across London, but also large parts of the South East.  Indeed, it is myth that it is solely a London project. It will cut journey times, provide much needed additional train capacity and encourage people to switch away from making many journeys by car, including in time many people who travel around London by the M25.

Most importantly it will lead to a transformation in genuinely accessible travel.  Passengers will be amazed by the long platforms and trains of 200 metres in length; taking rail and tube travel to a new level.   All 41 Elizabeth line stations will be step-free to platform level, staffed from first to the last train, with a ‘turn-up and go’ service offered to anyone needing assistance. 

 However, whilst celebrating its opening, there is no excuse for forgetting that, as a project, it has fundamentally failed the basic test of being delivered on time and on budget.     

 The central section of Crossrail is opening three and half years late and even then one key station, Bond Street, will not be ready.   Crossrail’s total construction bill is already £4 billion over budget and its delayed opening has drained TfL of much needed fares revenue over the last few years.  The project will have cost around £20 billion on completion, though a good chunk of this has been paid for by London businesses.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 20 Comments

Caroline Pidgeon writes…What has gone wrong with Crossrail?

I don’t know what the Queen is doing today.

However, I know for certain what she is not doing.

Many months ago it was agreed that Crossrail (the Elizabeth Line) would officially be opened by the Queen today.

The Elizabeth Line, will cover 100 km from Reading and Maidenhead to the west of the capital and Heathrow, through new tunnels under Central London to Woolwich and Abbey Wood in the south-east of the city and Shenfield in Essex.

It will transform rail transport in London and the surrounding region, increasing passenger capacity by 10%, supporting regeneration and cutting journey times across the capital. It will, when finally open, deliver wonderful new trains, 200 metres long, the same length as two football pitches. It will also deliver 10 new stations and key improvements to many others, making all the stations on the route step-free and therefore accessible for everyone.

Yet, sadly all these benefits have been put on hold, while the cost of completing it (and lost passenger income for Transport for London) simply soars.

The costs of completing the project were already escalating earlier this year, but then on the 31 August, barely three months before the official opening of the line, it was suddenly announced that its actual opening date would be sometime in ‘Autumn’ 2019.   We still have no exact revised opening date.

For a project to be delayed, by such a magnitude and so close to its official opening, is quite incredible.

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Gordon Birtwistle’s apprenticeships report for January

I have had a busy start to the year promoting apprenticeships and meeting with businesses; I thought I would share some of my findings with Lib Dem Voice.

I’ve been on some fantastic visits over the past month or two, seeing some truly inspirational outfits offering apprenticeships. In December I visited Gloucestershire Engineering Training centre in Steve Webb’s constituency. The GET provides training in mechanical, electrical and electronic engineering disciplines. I met 88 first year apprentices, including Lib Dem member Eva Fielding, one of three female engineers on the programme. The MD communicated her primary concerns; namely costings and encouraging local …

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The coalition agreement: transport & universities and further education

Welcome to the twentieth and last (phew!) in a series of posts going through the full coalition agreement section by section. You can read the full coalition document here.

Traditionally the transport sections of party manifestos contain commitments to various expensive, long-term public expenditure projects. In the current financial climate it is no surprise that the coalition agreement’s transport section is rather heavy on matters of regulation and bureaucracy and rather light on directly spending money to improve transport.

So we have a promise to “make Network Rail more accountable to its customers”, a commitment to “fair pricing for rail travel”, a …

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Cable: “Liberal Democrats committed to Crossrail”

Not exactly breaking news, but a reaffirming today of the Lib Dems’ backing for Crossrail, with a financial caveat:

Vince Cable has told the Evening Standard that the Liberal Democrats are backing Crossrail, the east-west railway now under construction in London:

The Liberal Democrats are fully committed to the Crossrail project and we certainly have no plans to scrap it.

However, as with all projects involving public sector money it is critical that Crossrail stays within its agreed budget.

Caroline Pidgeon, Chair of the London Assembly’s Transport Committee told Lib Dem Voice:

The Liberal Democrats have always been fully committed to

Posted in London and News | Also tagged , , and | 2 Comments
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