Fears over City firms leaving and wariness about appearing too London-centric are undermining consensus on £32bn project
A year ago, the progress of Crossrail 2 seemed assured. A political consensus was forming that a second mass-transit line across London should be built from north to south, its urgency underpinned by the verdict of the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) that this was the most important single project for Britain and work needed to start now. The then chancellor George Osborne duly doled out £80m to get the ball rolling, expecting a hybrid bill in the same parliament.
Now, with its champions having gone after the EU referendum, the project’s prospects look bleak. While City firms discuss relocating offices and staff, any assumption that higher business rates and commuter revenues would pay the £32bn construction bill is on shakier ground.