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Crossrail 2 is a long-trailed scheme to build a new rail line along the Chelsea-Hackney corridor. It is being jointly funded by the Mayor of London and the Secretary of State for Transport, and subsequently jointly advanced by Transport for London (TfL) and Network Rail, with support from the Department for Transport (DfT).

TfL has published three consultations on the design and development of Crossrail 2 and considered two detailed route options for the scheme:

  • Metro option – a stand-alone Underground line from Wimbledon to Alexandra Palace to provide a frequency of up to 40 trains per hour and a peak capacity of up to 38,500 passengers per hour per direction. The trains proposed in this option would be shorter than the regional option, with a tunnel diameter of 5.5 m, the same as for the DLR.
  • Regional option – would be similar in operation to Crossrail. The system is more extensive, both geographically than the Metro Option and in the length and capacity of the trains that would be used. The alignment of the central section would be similar but would be extended at both the northern and southern ends of the route onto the suburban rail lines.

The Regional Option had the greatest overall level of support in the public consultations and TfL carried it forward as its preferred scheme, though the exact design and scope of the project is still up for consideration.

Crossrail 2 will deliver several benefits to the London transport system, particularly in terms of easing congestion on other parts of the network and improving travel time and accessibility for those residents who will be connected by the new line. The scheme is also likely to deliver wider economic benefits through productivity improvements, economic growth and employment prospects along the supply chain of the project. The latest publicly available business case for the scheme estimates that it would produce £1.8 of benefit for every £1 of cost (a benefit-cost ratio, or BCR of 1.8). When wider economic benefits are included, this rises to a BCR of 2.0.

Capital costs for Crossrail 2 were estimated by TfL in 2016 at £32.6 billion. As announced by the Chancellor in the 2017 Autumn Budget, the DfT and TfL have commissioned an Independent Affordability Review to examine ways of making the scheme more affordable. There are reports that the capital costs may increase to more than £45 billion.

It is not clear at this stage whether the scheme will be delivered, and it rests, to a large extent, on whether costs can be contained and whether London can raise its share of the funding. In a best-case scenario, Crossrail 2 is unlikely to be delivered and operational until at least the early to mid-2030s.

Information on other rail projects and aspects of how the railways are run can be found on the Railways Topical Page of the Parliament website.

For more detailed information about the Crossrail scheme, see the House of Commons Library Briefing Paper Crossrail (Elizabeth Line).

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