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Will Crossrail 2 be stepfree?

Transport for All

Crossrail 2 is a scheme to build a...

Crossrail 2 is a scheme to build a substantial new railway network diagonally across London on a south-west to north-east axis, opening around 2030. So far no guarantees have been given that the new network will be fully accessible.

Transport for All finds it completely unacceptable that a modern railway network could be designed without full accessibility in mind. We have already run a campaign to get all Crossrail 1 stations fully accessible, after it was announced that seven of the stations would not be step-free – you can read about it here. A decision on these seven stations is still awaited.

In recent questions to the Mayor of London, Assembly Member Caroline Pidgeon was unable to obtain assurances from the Mayor that every station would be fully accessible.

She asked the Mayor “Will you give a clear and unambiguous commitment that Crossrail 2 will be opened offering full step-free street-to-train access at all stations?” and his response was “Development of Crossrail 2 is at an early stage with two broad options being considered. A key requirement of the project is to enhance accessibility and providing step free access at stations will be a key requirement of any scheme.“

Following this exchange, Ms Pidgeon issued the following statement:

“…it is vital that 100% of the public can benefit from this new link, including disabled people and parents with young children. Each and every station on Crossrail 2 must have complete step free access. There can be no ifs or buts on this issue. To fail to provide full access on a new rail link opening in 2030 would simply be shameful. It is highly regrettable that even this week the Mayor has failed to provide a total and categorical assurance that every single Crossrail 2 station will definitely have step free access.“

It will be some years before the Crossrail 2 network opens. The detailed design will not begin until around 2016-19, construction is expected to take place from 2020-2030, with train services beginning in the early 2030s. Crossrail is needed because London is a fast growing city, with a population expected to grow by two million by 2031. Existing transport networks are already becoming overcrowded, and new capacity is needed to allow London to continue growing, and to allow its economy to flourish.

The concept of cross-London tunnelled rail services connecting mainline services first emerged in the Greater London Plan drawn up in 1944. But it was not until 1974 that the term Crossrail was coined, in a study which recommended various schemes including the one which has now become Crossrail 1. The study also recommended a Chelsea-Hackney Underground line, and it is this idea which has now evolved into the Crossrail 2 concept. From 1991 the route for this line has been safeguarded by ensuring that any new buildings along its length have been constructed to allow for a potential new railway line.

If the scheme goes ahead, it could offer many benefits:

  • Reduced overcrowding on the Victoria line, Northern line, Piccadilly line and National Rail services into Waterloo and Liverpool Street.
  • Improved rail connections, releasing capacity on mainline rail routes by allowing more services into London from some longer distance destinations.
  • Increased capacity on London’s rail network, in support of London’s future population growth and economic prosperity.
  • More frequent trains and reduced journey times.
  • Redevelopment of many existing stations, supporting economic regeneration in locations such as Wimbledon, Dalston and along the upper Lea Valley.

There are two possible schemes for Crossrail 2: the Metro option or the Regional option.

The Metro option would be a London-only scheme, consisting of a high-frequency underground railway running through central London from Wimbledon to Alexandra Palace. This option, with up to forty 4-carriage DLR-style trains per hour, would relieve congestion on the Northern, Victoria and Piccadilly lines.

The Regional option would be a combined underground and overground railway, with up to thirty high-capacity ten-carriage Crossrail-style trains an hour, creating links between Surrey, south west London and Hertfordshire via several central London stations. This would have benefits both for London and for a wider area around London. Pressure would be taken off the termini at Liverpool Street and Waterloo, as trains would run all the way into, and through, central London.

The Regional option seems to be the preferred one, though at £35bn it is more expensive than the Metro one, which is estimated to cost roughly £15bn.

A consultation was launched in May 2013, in which 14,000 people were asked for their opinions about the scheme. The consultation was completed by the end of 2013, with 84% of those questioned favouring the regional route, and 73% favouring the metro route.

Both routes will reuse many existing stations including Wimbledon, Tooting Broadway, Clapham Junction, Victoria, Tottenham Court Road, Euston, King’s Cross and Angel. The Metro option would also include Piccadilly Circus station. There will be one completely new station, in King’s Road, Chelsea. You can see an animation of the two proposed options below:

A man standing in front of a painted brick wall smiling at the camera. He is holding a cane and is wearing glasses, a black jacket and a grey t-shirt. A man standing in front of a painted brick wall smiling at the camera. He is holding a cane and is wearing glasses, a black jacket and a grey t-shirt.

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