Chelsea 4 CrossRail2 Response to National Infrastructure Commission Report and to CrossRail 2 Consultation Report

Last week saw three important steps to delivering CrossRail2:

  • The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) report
  • The approval of Crossrail2 by the Government
  • The release of the Crossrail 2 Consultation Analysis

The National Infrastructure Commission report (here) laid out very clearly the need for CrossRail2 and the positive impact it will have on our region. It contained independent corroboration of our extrapolation of the last seven years growth at local underground and rail stations. We wrote about that here. The NIC report (p5) holds that peak morning passenger numbers will rise by 40% before Crossrail2 is delivered, very similar to our own projections. If you are using these stations as part of your morning commute, from or to the Kings Road and environs, then 40% on top of the current flow is pretty daunting.

This is important because a key part of our argument for a station concerns the ability of workers and visitors to come to our neighbourhood, let alone the needs of those living here. Imagine living in SW London, taking the train through Clapham – how will you get to the Marsden, the Chelsea and Westminster, Park Walk or Ashburnham Primary School? Hard to reach work places find it harder to attract and retain the best staff.

The NIC report also looked at cost and scope (para 3.7). Central London stations come at around a billion quid a pop so it is axiomatic that fewer stations, running a more direct route, will lower the cost. Running the line from Wimbledon non-stop to Clapham Junction is a big cost reduction too. But fewer stations also mean fewer commuters will benefit and so defeats the project’s purpose. It is self evident that the proposed Kings Road station is not an interchange with other lines but it does indeed improve the access to and from the area.

The debate has merely “been noted”, it will continue and we’re up for it.

The CrossRail 2 Consultation Analysis was also published (here). Any reader might be forgiven for thinking Londoners are an ungrateful bunch. Here is a £30bn project affecting the lives of millions, supported by government and yet it generates only about twenty thousand comments, mostly “unsupportive” ones! This illustrates the fickle nature of public opinion when planning a giant infrastructure project. A station on the Kings Road is a microcosm of that. So, whilst we applaud the NO Chelsea Crossrail campaign’s effectiveness in decrying this part of the project, they’re not the only arbiter.

We took the consultation questions from the Report relating just to stations (and not depots or shafts). 57% of the comments made were unsupportive. Those comments regarding Wimbledon, King’s Road and Balham stations were the most negative and provided most of the unsupportive comments for the entire project. These negative comments were on either specific features or “generally unsupportive”. King’s Road comments were mainly general. Negative comments do not necessarily mean opposition. Many concerns can be mitigated or allayed. This is the work Crossrail2 must now do.

So, there are many months of debate to be had about refining CrossRail2. In short, we are, in Chelsea, are being offered a billion pound investment of which other neighbourhoods are envious. It would set the development direction of Chelsea for decades to come. Though a wealthy area for the most part, this is additional investment from which many will greatly benefit, residents, visitors and workers. It would be perverse to reject it.