London’s largest ever infrastructure project hit a major milestone this week. But how will Crossrail affect how we get around the capital?
Both the Prime Minister David Cameron and the Mayor of London Boris Johnson ventured deep underground last week for the latest major milestone in the Crossrail project. 26 miles, eight 1,000 tonne machines and three years later the breakthrough finally took place linking the east and west sections of the route.
Thirty years in the planning, Crossrail creates 40 new stations from the East to the West of the capital. A £14.8bn project the new rail line runs from Berkshire to Essex carrying around 200 million passengers every year from 2018 when it officially opens. The new stations above ground will be one of the most visible symbols of the project but it is some 36 feet below ground that the real work continues, creating new tunnels and laying track.
The need for Crossrail became clear as London continued to expand through the 90s, 00s and now 10s. With the capital’s population standing above 10m it puts severe drain on the capital’s infrastructure, the underground and London Overground service becoming dangerously busy as rush hour with delays and bottlenecking at key stations commonplace. The system needed a pressure vale and Crossrail provides just that.
Any city needs the capacity to expand and grow to meet its needs. Without investment in new train routes, extra carriages, it becomes impossible to get from a to b. This stifles business and dissuades investors from setting up businesses, especially if it’s hard for their staff to physically get to work.
Yet Crossrail has a wider impact than just for commuters and train travellers. Already people living across the route of the new line have recognised that London’s famous housing boom is set to reach them. As new stations are proposed suddenly they become part of the new commuter belt, with investors keen to snap up houses close to the new stations. That’s an extra added pressure on London’s housing that the city might find it difficult to cope with. The last thing London needs is more neighbourhoods that young workers and families are priced out of.
Then there’s the double edged sword for the hospitality and service sector. Improved infrastructure often leads to increased footfall. Once it’s easier to get to and from a place you’ll find more people want to do the journey. The traditional cores of London might shift and evolve as new locations along the Crossrail route become popular. These might become new hotspots for hotels, restaurants, businesses and of course serviced apartments.
London was never going to stay the same. Having been part of the capital for over 25 years, Clarendon has seen the capital continually grow and evolve. A major infrastructure project like Crossrail is vital to keep up with the demand from commuters and business, and meeting that demand helps to keep London strong. There will be challenges in terms of new areas and locations that become popular but that’s part and parcel of live and working in one of the world most majestic capital cities.