19 MARCH 2018
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Crossrail/The Elizabeth Line steadily moves forward towards its planned opening date in December. But is all well?
The Mayor of London has announced that users of the new railway will pay the same fares as the equivalent Underground travellers (see below). It was probably too complex to introduce a different payment system, but it will save travellers a great deal of money.
All the London airports, save one, are connected directly to the Elizabeth Line, with Heathrow T2, T3 & T5, Gatwick and Luton via Farringdon and Southend and Stansted at Liverpool Street.
That leaves London City (LCY). The line surfaces after passing under the airport and there is a high fence to hide the view of the terminal as you pass by.
Why, you may ask, this crazy position? Nine new stations were built for Crossrail.
Historically, Mayor Johnson did all he could to slow down the airport’s development. It would compete with his estuary scheme. His appointee to the board of TfL, Daniel Moylem, was quoted thus regarding a Silvertown station for London City Airport station: “Over my dead body!”
In one of his first acts, incoming Mayor Khan approved planning permission for the airport’s expansion, which is now under way. (See “London City Airport – 30 Years Serving the Capital”, published by Business Travel News – P165, City Airport Development Plan).
There are two ways of introducing a Silvertown-for-London City Elizabeth Line station (it did exist with the original North London Line, which forms the basis of Crossrail from Custom House onward).
First, build a station in the early 2020s with considerable disruption to the railway services. It will not work out cheap and may well be economically unviable. And who will pay?
Secondly to complete, but then postpone the opening of the Canary Wharf-to-Abbey Wood extension. There is very little cost involved and both Woolwich Arsenal and Abbey Wood have existing services. At Canary Wharf, the trains can be turned around. Once the paperwork is dealt with, assembling the prefabricated station would take little over six months, the cost hardly noticeable with a £14bn project.
Business Travel News calls for the Mayor of London to get involved again and convene urgently a commission to discuss a station for LCY. He is on record for his commitment to the airport, a major gateway to Europe at a time London needs every support as we progress to post-Brexit times. Is every London airport to have direct access to the Elizabeth Line except London City?
All comments are filtered to exclude any excesses but the Editor does not have to agree with what is being said. 100 words maximum
Andrew Sharp, United Kingdom
A back of the envelope calculation suggests an excellent financial case. Suppose 50% of LCY's 4.5m passengers use Silvertown and pay the £4.90 cash fare - that's £11m a year. Then look at the (approximately) 4500 airport based employees. They make 10 journeys a week, 50 weeks a year - 0.9m journeys. Suppose they pay the contactless fare of £2.80 - that's another £2.5m. So the station is nearly paid for in year 1 by airport passengers alone. Then compare the massive regeneration between Hayes and Southall with the south side of Silvertown station and assess the potential for local economic development and community benefit. Then build Silvertown station - now!
Michael Colella, London
Put this into perspective - even with staff LCY would represent a small number of passengers in comparison to other Crossrail passengers. Crossrail will have in excess of 200 Million trips per annum with most of these trips beginning or ending in central London - this in excess of all trips to every UK airport combined! Even if you could persuade half of all trips (including staff) to travel on Crossrail, an LCY station would still be less than the number of trips expected to Woolwich for which the developers part paid for the cost. So we can carp that not putting a station at LCY is a disaster but given other UK transport priorities, this is pretty low on the list
Malcolm Ginsberg, United Kingdom
The figures noted by Mr Anderson have nothing to do with London City Airport and relate to consumer traffic. There are ten new stations on the Elizabeth Line most of whom will not attract as much passenger throughput as LCY. The estimates for the Silvertown for London City Airport station cost vary from £12m to £100m plus and do not take into account the disruption caused by the work. If LCY is to expand the station will be required. Mayor Johnson was personally against any development at LCY due to his own commitment to the now discredited Thames Estuary airport.
Richard Anderson, United Kingdom
The sheer numbers of passengers that Crossrail is likely to serve can explain this planning decision. Based on TfL’s publicly available data, Whitechapel (the smallest) served 14.3m passengers in 2016, Farringdon 15.9m, Bond Street 40m, Canary Wharf 54.8m. London City DLR served just 4.5m passengers in 2015; although that has the potential to grow, Crossrail perhaps out-sizes LCY, particularly as a brand new, 250m station would have to be constructed.
Living in SE London Gatwick does have reasonable connections to the tube network through the 'Overground' - closest being Norwood Junction or Clapham Junction. Great!
Malcolm Ginsberg, London
Sally must not live anywhere near Gatwick. There are excellent train services to both Victoria and London Bridge stations with first class Underground connections, improving the whole time.
Sally Pavey, England
What rubbish, Gatwick does not connect to any underground or major rail infrastructure projects.
Ed Pooley, Isle of Man
Construction of the essential LCY Crossrail station now rather than later is a blindingly obvious proposition which I assume the owners of the airport are behind and might therefore consider contributing to the cost of it on the express condition that it occurs now not later.
There is a historic precedent. The Metropolitan Rly (now line) passed Euston by. It was funded by the Great Western while Euston was owned by London & Birmingham (later LNWR). They competed. So no connection. So later generations have to use Euston Square 500 metres away. I fear a similar outcome in Docklands.
Graham Stephenson, Exeter
BTN has worked hard to highlight this major political disaster and one can only hope that new attempts will succeed as this is vital to the future effectiveness of London's airports working together to add value to the City of London.