Previous SectionIndexHome Page

Mr. Charles Walker (Broxbourne) (Con): Has not Crossrail shown complete disregard for the needs of my hon. Friend's constituents?

Andrew Rosindell: My hon. Friend's words echo the views of all my constituents. We originally thought that the development might benefit us, but over time we have realised that there will be very little benefit and it will wreck many people's lives. Many elderly people who live locally are in fear of what they may have to face in their twilight years.

Although it was asked for details of the elimination of the other depot sites considered as long ago as July 2004, Cross London Rail Links did not see fit to release the information to Havering council, Havering's Greater London assembly representative Roger Evans and the Crossrail action group until May this year, although the document is clearly dated December 2003. Having looked at the reasons for deselection of some of the alternative sites, I deduce that different criteria have been used from one site to the next. The Romford option is the most expensive and the most logistically difficult to build, yet it appears that the use of so-called brownfield land for the depot, although it is in a residential area, is being made to fit Crossrail's criteria. How can that possibly be? I hope that the Minister will tell us later.

Towns usually build up around industry of this kind, rather than the other way about. I ask for Cross London Rail Links to be directed back to the drawing board, and told to consider land that has already been used for this purpose at Ilford or North Pole. I also ask for all sites considered to be rated with the use of the same criteria, rather than differing criteria depending on location.

Mr. Pickles: My hon. Friend mentioned the North Pole depot, to which I also referred. Eurostar will lose it in 2007. Does it surprise my hon. Friend that Crossrail has not even considered it as an alternative?

Andrew Rosindell: I agree. I find that not just surprising but astonishing. If there is one message to be conveyed from our side of the debate, it is that the Minister should reconsider that aspect. The North Pole site would clearly be appropriate and would avoid much disruption in my constituency and elsewhere.

The most infuriating example of what I am describing is the fact that a site with only a handful of houses nearby uses "proximity to dwellings" as an adverse
19 Jul 2005 : Column 1187
effect, while there has been no mention of that in the selection of Romford, although hundreds of homes will be affected. The depot at North Pole, just west of Paddington and on the proposed Crossrail route to Heathrow, is currently used by Eurostar, as my hon. Friend said. That new, modern depot, built to maintain the most modern trains, will be vacated in 2007 when Eurostar switches its maintenance to a new depot being built at Temple Mills with £400 million of taxpayers' money. If Crossrail used North Pole, it would probably save the taxpayer the £430 million construction costs of the Romford depot, and save my constituents in Romford from massive and unnecessary disruption. Crossrail has not been able to give a convincing reason for its inability to use the North Pole site.

Mr. Slaughter: I did not think that the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar (Mr. Pickles) mentioned North Pole. I believe that he mentioned a depot near Paddington. North Pole is relatively near Paddington, but is actually at Shepherd's Bush. If only from my earlier intervention, the hon. Member for Romford (Andrew Rosindell) must know that Crossrail considered it as an option and rejected it, partly because it is in west London rather than east London and therefore logistically inappropriate, and partly because there may be other plans for the North Pole depot. He cannot hang his argument on that.

Andrew Rosindell: There may be other plans and Crossrail may have considered them, but it has not pursued that option. What I am asking today is for the Minister to revive that option and look further into the details. A decision has been taken, but not a fair decision, so other alternatives need to be considered. Will the Minister assure my constituents that he will investigate why this option has been decided and ensure that the North Pole alternative is given serious and urgent consideration?

Other effects of the work in Romford include the extension of an underpass widely used by residents ranging from children to the elderly. It will be extended from 43 to 75 m. Associated works at Romford station will cause considerable disruption with yet more work sites and more construction vehicles. The affected residents are effectively stuck in the area, because once Crossrail reaches planning stages and starts showing up a negative on searches, residents will be unable to sell their homes, causing blight to many home owners in my constituency. I feel that that is totally unfair to my constituents.

I turn now to the effects of Crossrail in the Gidea park area of my constituency, where railway sidings and an access route are being proposed. The residents of Cambridge avenue, Amery gardens and the surrounding area will have imposed on them a large area for the storage of Crossrail trains—yet more disturbance, noise and pollution. Gidea park is another quiet residential area and although the Liverpool Street line runs through the community, using the land at the rear of residential properties for that particular purpose is an entirely new development, to which most local people are completely opposed. There is also the access route for vehicles proposed via the Southend arterial road, where lorries will thunder past residential properties and around the sides of people's homes, causing no end of
19 Jul 2005 : Column 1188
disturbance. As the local MP, I speak on behalf of all local residents from the area who feel that this plan is totally and utterly unacceptable.

It has also become increasingly apparent that affected residents in the area will have little to gain from the development or from the Crossrail service itself. As such, I believe that connecting the Great Eastern Shenfield line into the Crossrail scheme could prove a serious mistake—a view shared by my hon. Friend the Member for Brentwood and Ongar. From what I can see, the £1.5 billion that it will cost far outweighs the potential benefits to passengers from Romford. There will be only a slight increase in capacity and, by the time the whole scheme is commissioned, it will have been absorbed by the growth of towns along the eastern route. There is no real evidence that journey times for passengers on this branch will decrease substantially. Most commuters from Romford walk from Liverpool Street station to jobs in the City and there is also a good interchange at Stratford on to the Central line. Since the Crossrail scheme was revived by the central London rail study, the Jubilee line has been constructed, allowing passengers to travel directly to Canary Wharf and the west end, reducing the congestion on the Central line.

Mr. Andrew Turner (Isle of Wight) (Con): I am grateful to my hon. Friend for giving way and for giving the House so much information about the impact of this development on his constituency. Does he agree that any development of this kind will have the effect not only of increasing traffic and travel, but of enabling people to travel far further to work than they otherwise could—in other words, to live perhaps in Essex and work in Middlesex, which under other circumstances would be wholly irrational and likely to force people to relocate? We are not improving the environment, but merely enabling more and more people to travel further and further, damaging the environment as they do so.

Andrew Rosindell: I have great sympathy with my hon. Friend's point. We all want progress and greater access to travel, but there are many different ways of doing it. I am increasingly of the view that the important thing to focus on is smaller developments—localised, but clearly focused on what will be achieved. Huge developments may not necessarily improve the situation but most certainly have a big impact on the environment. The debate will become more detailed and complex as time goes on.

Crossrail has told Romford residents at meetings held by the Crossrail action group that they will be able to board direct trains to Heathrow airport. However, in answer to another of my written questions, the Minister confirmed that all trains to Heathrow will, in fact, start from Abbey Wood with no direct service from Shenfield. We have also learned that Crossrail trains are unlikely to run to Heathrow's new terminal 5 because of capacity conflicts. It appears that passengers from the Shenfield branch will need to change trains to get to Heathrow and then change again if they want to use flights from terminal 5. The case for incorporating the Shenfield line in the Crossrail scheme seems to depend on the assumption that it will, in turn, release capacity for more services from Stansted airport into Liverpool Street station. Yet rail industry experts have raised serious questions about whether Crossrail's operating
19 Jul 2005 : Column 1189
strategies will actually work. If they are right, Crossrail's plans imply the utter waste of £1.5 billion, with the so-called investment going into making public transport worse.

Next Section IndexHome Page