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Finally, the committee heard extensive evidence from the London Borough of Greenwich about the case for adding a Crossrail station at Woolwich, and pressed the Government in July 2006 to promote an additional provision for a station. DfT worked with CLRL and Greenwich Council to come up with an affordable way of adding a station to the project. Following Greenwich Council's proposal to revise its spatial plan to allow a higher density of development at Woolwich, outline agreement was reached in March 2007 between the department and Berkeley Homes—the developer of the Woolwich Royal Arsenal site—under which Berkeley Homes would build and fund the basic station box structure. Furthermore, we intend to develop a proposal for fitting out the station to full operational status, funded solely by local developers and businesses that stand to benefit, and at no additional cost to the public sector. In the light of that outline agreement, the Government brought forward amendments to the Bill for a station at Woolwich in May last year.

Aside from the sheer scale of its construction, one of the greatest challenges that Crossrail presents is how to operate services at a high frequency on a new railway as well as on the existing lines east and west of London. Crossrail will be an important addition to

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the national rail network, providing much needed additional commuting capacity. Crossrail services will subsume existing suburban services on the Great Eastern and Great Western lines, and there will also be some complementary outer suburban services. Crossrail services will run on the “slow” lines in normal operation and will not affect “fast” line services—for example, those serving the south-west and south Wales.

Although most of the capacity of the new central tunnel will be taken up by Crossrail services, use of existing networks outside this will be shared with other passenger and freight operators. Dedicated use for Crossrail services was ruled out because it would have created an unacceptable impact on other users, particularly freight users. Given shared use of the network, careful planning has been needed from an early stage on how to timetable services so that they fit together. There is not room on the Great Western line for all Crossrail services planned for the central tunnel, and this was one of the reasons why many Crossrail services will terminate at Paddington.

To facilitate the creation of the new Crossrail service, extensive railway powers were included in the Bill. It is fair to say that these powers have proved controversial within the rail industry, even though they are intended to be largely reserve powers. To deal with these concerns, the Government have pressed ahead with negotiating an access option under existing industry processes. This would grant future access rights for Crossrail services to Network Rail’s network. Following a successful negotiation with Network Rail, the access option is currently before the Office of Rail Regulation to consider approval. The Office of Rail Regulation will reach its decisions in the light of consultation responses it has received and on the basis of its existing duties.

Supporting the access option is a great deal of timetable and other modelling work, which has involved the relevant freight and passenger train operator interests. Timetabling and the impact on freight were raised extensively by petitioners in the Select Committee in the other place. Although the broader questions of the operation of Crossrail are matters of general public policy, there is a large level of interest in such matters and the issue will doubtless be raised with the Select Committee in this House, taking account of the most up-to-date modelling work and, hopefully, also the Office of Rail Regulation’s decision on the access option application.

I hope that the House will agree that the project has changed fundamentally and for the better since the Bill's introduction, but we accept that there may be individuals and groups who are directly affected by the project and continue to have concerns. A further petitioning period has just begun; the deadline is 30 January. Petitioners can make representations to Parliament and may then appear before the Select Committee to make their case. Your Lordships can rest assured that the promoter continues to work closely with those affected by the project. We hope that by negotiating seriously we can satisfy the concerns of many.

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I conclude by thanking all those who have prepared and worked on the project to date, and prepared and helped me to enjoy making this first speech on a subject which I am sure is close to many of our hearts. The Bill will bring much good. If the project runs to time and budget, in 2017 it will provide me with my 64-year moment. I commend the Bill to the House.

Moved, That the Bill be now read a second time.—(Lord Bassam of Brighton.)

6.47 pm

Lord Hanningfield:My Lords, I, too, am pleased to have the opportunity to speak on the Bill. The House has waited a good while to be given the chance to scrutinise it. First and foremost, I pay tribute to the Select Committee in another place, which has provided a good deal of precedent for which I am sure we are all grateful. It seems very timely and appropriate to be discussing grand transport projects. The opening of the impressively renovated St Pancras and the improved train journeys on High Speed 1 from that station demonstrate the capability and great potential for big transport improvements.

The case for Crossrail is clear. I do not dispute that, and we support the construction of Crossrail. Obviously, however, there are things that we will want to discuss in the process. London and the south-east are the beacon of the country's economy, and make a disproportionate contribution to the UK's public finances, often without receiving commensurate public spending. The region has for too long relied on an old transport network running at full capacity and I am pleased to be able to contribute, perhaps, to changing this. It is unfortunate that we have had to wait quite so long for a project which has had many false dawns. We only hope that it is going to happen now. All these false dawns have obviously contributed immensely to the total cost.

When considering the impact of Crossrail, I have often thought of the daily journey many commuters make from my region in Essex into the capital—which I often make, too. Unfortunately, all too often, the trains on this line into Liverpool Street are totally packed and subject to congestion-related delay. Once they have arrived—as the Minister said—they will have to complete their journeys across London through a busy Underground station and along the Central line, which is often very busy indeed.

Crossrail proposes that a commuter can catch a train in Shenfield and remain on that same train through central London and beyond, thereby relieving capacity on other parts of the transport network. I particularly like the analogy made in another place that Crossrail could be the “heart bypass” for the region, which sums up the situation very well.

There has been much discussion in another place about the termini of Crossrail, but I do not propose to get into that debate. The Minister made several comments about it which I am sure will be taken up. What appears concerning, however, is that only some of the Bill’s provisions will apply to future extensions of the line. The current route and legislation has been subjected to extensive parliamentary scrutiny, so it

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makes good sense that petitioners should be able to do the same in the case of any future extension.

I agree with the argument that Crossrail should not be at the expense of other rail services. Crossrail will be a stopping metro service and cannot interfere with the fast lines into the main London stations, which are already subjected to frequent delays due to congestion. Of course, in the case of the eastern branch, many commuters will choose to use Crossrail, rather than the non-stop services from Shenfield, for the benefit of getting across London more quickly. I would be interested to hear from the Minister the implications and planning made in the light of that. He talked a lot about the extension of Liverpool Street station. I do not argue against it, but it might be that many passengers get off before that station and use Crossrail to cross the top of London. I do not know whether enough thought has been put into that.

There has also been discussion in another place about the clause in the Bill which allows the Office of Rail Regulation to prioritise Crossrail construction over other services both during construction phases and when services are up and running. I should imagine that that needs careful consideration, and my opinion remains that a grand project such as Crossrail cannot afford to interfere with other services. They are life blood to many people as regards their work and everything else. Assurances are all well and good, but as evidenced by the first day of services this new year and the work carried out at Liverpool Street station, rail improvement works have a tendency to be somewhat unpredictable. During the recent months and years, my major concerns have been about the problems of construction and the way in which people can live and operate during that time. I would like further assurances from the Minister on that.

A major overhaul in the form of Crossrail has the potential severely to disrupt passenger services. Even within the project, I notice from the heads of terms document published in November that there will be service-level commitments to BAA for the Heathrow branch and Canary Wharf for the Isle of Dogs station, and the possibility of this being at the expense of the other branches is concerning. I therefore repeat my concern about the implications for the pattern of transport while the work is contracted.

On another point, I am intrigued that zones 7, 8 and 9 have just this month been added to the remit of Transport for London, covering as far north as Watford, in Hertfordshire, on the new London overground railway. Is this the sign of things to come? A note in the heads of terms between TfL and the DfT is that it has not yet been decided whether there will be one or multiple operators on the Crossrail route. Will the entire Crossrail network be amalgamated into TfL’s zonal structure, and, if so, what consequences will this have for non-Crossrail services operating in parallel to Maidenhead and Shenfield?

Finally, the impact of Crossrail on freight movement throughout the south-east remains largely unconsidered. The noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, will refer to that later in the debate. I hope that the matter can be debated satisfactorily in the later stages of the

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Bill. Each year, more than 5 million tonnes of aggregates are delivered into London by rail. Having this disrupted and moved to road transport would have consequences both in terms of congestion and carbon emissions.

The main point of scrutiny has to be the finance and funding of the project. It is imperative that the funding structure is robust. While the announcement in October was welcome, although I understand that it is not yet definite, it would have perhaps been better for the purpose of scrutiny in another place if a decision had been made earlier. I am pleased that the Government have accepted the Lyons recommendation on supplementary business rates, one of the bases of Crossrail funding, but we all know that there is not yet legislation to enable that. Only today, I read a letter from the Mayor of London to the Transport Secretary of State, saying that he anticipated getting the extra business rate in 2010. As no legislation is going through Parliament to enable the business rate to be implemented, let alone consultation and all the other action that needs to be taken to enable the business rate to be used to fund Crossrail, I would like to know how it is to be funded. I am not against it, but I would like to know the mechanics of it. Quite a bit of confusion therefore remains about how the project will be funded, certainly in the first instance.

I am also anxious that in recent times government projects have often seemed to cost much more than was suggested, and the long delay in announcing Crossrail has only added to that. I very much hope that the £16 billion funding requirement will remain broadly that, although I am not heartened by the fact that the price tag on the proposed Woolwich station has seemed to fluctuate according to whether the station was in favour or not. I hope that the overall costing is better thought out and more robust from the outset. It is important that factors such as grants and proceeds from developers and sums raised from the sale of land are properly scrutinised. I notice that a new clause was suggested on Report in another place to make it a requirement that updates are regularly delivered to Parliament on funding and costing. Such a transparent and public approach seems to be entirely sensible.

In summary, Crossrail has the potential to supply a much-needed capacity to a rail and transport network that is deserving of upgrade. I support the Bill and look forward to seeing its improvement following its passage through this House.

6.57 pm

Lord Bradshaw: My Lords, like the noble Lord, Lord Hanningfield, and most other people, I welcome the Bill. The sooner it is got on with the better. It has taken a long time to get this far and I do not want anything I now say to affect the construction of the tunnel and of Crossrail.

However, there are problems outside the tunnel, as has been said by the noble Lord, Lord Hanningfield, and the Minister, where the trains from the tunnel share tracks with other trains. I also have reservations relating to the disbalance of services between east and

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west, with a lot of trains terminating at Paddington and returning in an easterly direction. That is not good railway practice as it means that trains are running very much under load in one direction. In addressing the issue, and realising that it is outside the Crossrail Bill, I urge the Minister to consider whether Maidenhead is a suitable terminus in the west. It is probably one of the highest cost areas around London and any attempt to establish a train depot, or anything that requires lots of staff at Maidenhead, will be very difficult. I say that from my experience on the Thames Valley Police Authority, where we had great difficulty in maintaining staffing at places such as Slough and Maidenhead because as soon as officers went there, they moved to London where wages were higher. Therefore, now it has been decided to invest a lot of money in Reading station, will the Minister assure us that the westerly terminus for trains should be at Reading? Reading people would then have the opportunity of travelling on a wider range of services than they would if the trains terminated at Maidenhead.

There is the problem of Heathrow. What trains are going to serve Heathrow? Will people in Canary Wharf, for example, be happy to travel on an all-stations train to Heathrow? I do not think they will be, yet Heathrow Express is expecting people to change at Paddington from Crossrail trains to the Heathrow Express to complete their journey. That does not seem to be a good arrangement. I ask that further negotiations take place with the people concerned with servicing Heathrow to produce something that is more attractive than what is proposed.

A further matter that the Government should consider is an extension to Crossrail towards Milton Keynes. Milton Keynes has been designated as a growth area and more and more people travel from there into Euston, and people who change at Euston on to the Underground will tell you that it is the most appalling, heavily crowded place. It would be reasonably simple to extend certain Crossrail trains to Milton Keynes. I realise we are talking about the long term, but the long term as far as railways are concerned is probably a century because railways last a long time. I do not see any means of serving London efficiently without taking account of the fact that these extensions are necessary and that Crossrail only partly does the job.

There is also the problem of whether people from places such as Maidenhead would be happy if all their trains were all-station trains because that would extend their journey times. If they are not, how are the semi-fast trains from further out to be encompassed in the timetable?

Freight is a serious problem and is presumably the reason why the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, has tabled his Motion. As the noble Lord, Lord Hanningfield, said, 5 million tonnes of freight arrives each year, mostly on the Great Western main line. London is extremely dependent on that freight. It provides all sorts of building materials, which are very much in demand in London and cannot be brought into London in any other way. I counted them up today, and I think there are five aggregates terminals on the

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final eight miles when coming in to Paddington. Those trains are big and heavy and move slowly. Can the Minister give us an assurance about the underpass at Acton? Is there money somewhere for that to happen? If it does not happen, there will be conflict between the people running freight trains, those running Crossrail and, presumably, the people from further west who want to get into Paddington. From my very recent experience, I can assure the Minister that mainline trains use the relief lines because the main lines are too often unserviceable.

There is also a need for more cross-country routes for freight. As there are further developments at Bathside Bay and at Harwich, there will be an increasing flow of traffic to the north. At the moment, that traffic has to come down through Shenfield, I believe, and go round on the North London line. We know that the North London line will not be available for freight very much, and we also know that, as the noble Lord, Lord Hanningfield, said, there is not much capacity between Shenfield and London. Can the Minister give me a really copper-bottomed assurance that the diversionary routes from the Haven ports through Peterborough to Nuneaton will be ready in time and are not just something that might happen?

Like the noble Lord, Lord Hanningfield, I am concerned about Clauses 22 and 44. I believe that they fundamentally change the relationship between railway companies, the Government and the Office of Rail Regulation. I heard the Minister say that the powers are only reserved powers, but the problem is that they are in the Bill. Once they are there, we do not know whether they will be used. If there are reserved powers, one can presumably conceive of them being used. I want some assurance that they are not a means of letting Crossrail trains have some sort of priority over Great Western trains, both long-distance and outer-suburban trains, and freight trains. In the railway industry, there is a system—it was not designed by me—for access allocation. It is reasonably fair and is accepted by the present players in the railway industry, but if one particular player is given preference over the others, it would be unsatisfactory.

I am also concerned about whether everybody appreciates the enormous disruption that will be caused by Crossrail. I am afraid there is no way round it, but I hope sufficient cognisance has been taken of the fact that there will be a lot of disruption and that it will presumably be at exactly the same time as the demand for things such as aggregates to build the tunnel and its surrounding works reaches its peak. That will be a great problem for people commuting from the west of England, south Wales, Bristol and Reading into Paddington and into Liverpool Street. People are entitled to some sort of assurance that the interests of existing users will not be undermined by the interests of other people.

I have outlined a series of problems, but we welcome the Bill and want Crossrail. However, we need answers regarding some of these problems because they are of great concern to many people.

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7.07 pm

Baroness Valentine: My Lords, hurrah that we have got this far on Crossrail. Building Crossrail matters hugely to me personally, and it should matter to anyone who cares about the UK economy. I could talk about the subject for hours, but I shall spare noble Lords that this evening.

To keep the UK competitive, we need London to succeed, and for London to succeed, we need a world-class transport system. London is critical to the UK’s global competitiveness. The UK’s global strengths are those where London leads: the service sector and financial services. The vast majority of recent export growth has come from those sectors. The UK’s regional centres—Edinburgh, Manchester, Cardiff and Birmingham—win business off the back of London winning European HQs. While the HQ may be in London, the HR or IT function may be elsewhere. An example is the Bank of New York. It has been in London for several years but it has recently taken office space in Manchester.

London is a great success. It has traded with the world for centuries and that, together with its openness to other cultures, has led to it being ranked number one in the MasterCard worldwide centres of commerce index. However, that means that plenty of cities out there are ready to eat our lunch, and London’s Achilles’ heel is its infrastructure. Its sewers, its water mains, its Tube system, its roads and even its bus routes are more than 100 years old. They need renewal. The failure of Governments since the war to invest in infrastructure risks holding back London, and therefore the UK. Mayor Bloomberg of New York commissioned another study from McKinsey, to look at how world financial centres compared with each other. London came out with many advantages, but transport was raised again as a problem.

Not only are we running to catch up with current demand, what is more, London is growing. Our Tube and rail system cannot cope with current demand. For the first time, the Tube carried more than 1 billion people last year, and another record was set on 7 December 2007, when the Tube carried 4.2 million passengers in just one day. There is no elbow room at all.

Crossrail will provide part of the solution, but we need it pronto. By the time Crossrail is built, there will be about another half a million workers in London. In a stroke, Crossrail will provide 40 per cent of the extra rail capacity needed. It will transport 72,000 workers per hour into and out of central London.

Crossrail failed in the early 1990s due to recession and lack of funding commitment from the Treasury. The commitment to economic development and pace of change in India or China means that we can ill afford that 15-year delay. Let us at least get on with it now.

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