Select Committee on the Crossrail Bill Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 4720 - 4739)

  4720. Why might that be a sensible decision?
  (Mr Schabas) It might be the building was going to be re-developed anyway and it might be cheaper than underpinning an existing building. I just use that as an extreme case but this route, apart from Cutlers Gardens, does not seem to go under any substantial piled buildings or you could not consider that. With the amount of money that is at stake and being spent on building this and the value of saving a few seconds of time, I would have thought those would have been considerations. Sorry, Mr Berryman was jumping up and looking at me, I—

  4721. CHAIRMAN: Mr Horton, you are going to have to see if you can confine this to the situation that is in front of this Select Committee today and I do not know what they might have wished to do by way of compulsory purchase. The Bill contains specific compulsory purchase powers to which I referred this morning. It refers to the plans and the sections and it does not include this.

  4722. MR HORTON: I know that, my Lord, it is a different point.

  4723. CHAIRMAN: That is right, is it not?

  4724. MR HORTON: It is a different point with respect.

  4725. CHAIRMAN: What is the point of talking about the potential compulsory purchase of these buildings?

  4726. MR HORTON: My Lord, for this reason, I suppose it is a dangerous strategy but I embark on it to help the Committee and I had some discussion with Mr Schabas trying to anticipate what might be said about Route B other than what we know was said, which is very little indeed, in the 2001 report. In so far as Route B, it is conceded, would go under the buildings which may not be very tall buildings, may not have very deep piles but would have piles, and if that might be raised as an objection, all I was asking Mr Schabas was to assist you as to whether a promoter necessarily finds that as an insuperable objection compared with, for example, selecting a route which might be longer.

  4727. CHAIRMAN: Yes, what we are going to be talking about is whether or not there is a main alternative which was omitted from consideration.

  4728. MR HORTON: Yes.

  4729. CHAIRMAN: It is not just a tiny little bit of it, it is a main alternative for the entire railway. Are you trying to chop this up into small sections?

   (Mr Schabas) Sorry, the Promoters brought Channel Tunnel Rail Link into this process. They said they were following this process. I think they said that, if I am wrong correct me, please. I do not want to be accused of being vitriolic, I am just saying they said they took up the way Channel Tunnel Rail Link did it and I have to say, having been deeply involved in Channel Tunnel Rail Link, that is not the case. Channel Tunnel Rail Link, rightly or wrongly, maybe we read the law wrong, maybe we worried far too much and we did not need to worry so much, we took the view that there were, yes, major alternatives; at the higher level, does it go north or south of the Thames into London and then at a more detailed level when you are going between Whitechapel and Liverpool Street, you go under Whitechapel Road which is pretty obviously a straight way to go. If I was walking from Liverpool Street to Whitechapel, I would probably go that way. Or do you swing north to be up near the railway under Spitalfields and back down again and you might be doing that if you wanted to build a construction site for a conveyer, but otherwise it would not immediately jump to mind as the obvious way to go. It seems to me there are two ways and probably two or three more obvious alternatives but not 50, there are minor variations within them. It does come down to is an alternative something the Promoters come up with and think about or something that is there staring you in the face. Whitechapel Road is kind of staring you in the face there; why not go straight through? To me, it is staring me in the face. Going out of Liverpool Street, I would not do a sharp curve and go up to a worksite that I am not really going to need anyway, I would go straight through or look at going straight through because it would make for a much better railway, that is all.

  4730. MR HORTON: Can I ask you about straightness. The Bill route, what is the curvature of that? Is any of it substandard?
  (Mr Schabas) Yes, I believe they had to get special dispensation from the operators to use it. They say it adds three seconds in each direction, I have not seen the calculations. It is not a severe restriction. I am sure there are other resections like that along the route, but it is not something that you would like to have and it is something that has a cost in the millions over the life of the project and in the transport benefits. Good practice is you weigh that against the other pros and cons of the main alternatives, i.e. a straight route without this curve.

  4731. MR HORTON: As you understand it, would Route B have substandard curvature at any point?
  (Mr Schabas) I am not aware of it actually, but I think without detailed design works around the Heron Tower you cannot be sure but they certainly do not mention it here. In fact, there is no mention of curves at all in this, which is strange because it would seem to me to be pretty important. I think this was written by a tunnelling engineer who was worrying about digging tunnels. He did not get into the other sorts of issues and it seems to me a very narrow way to have defined and rejected alternatives. They are not saying you cannot build it, they are not even saying it is harder than the one they have picked because they are not doing comparisons. They are just saying this one will be a bit difficult.

  4732. CHAIRMAN: Mr Schabas, I keep on saying it is interesting to see what happened in 2001. What we are interested in is what is happening today, what is the situation today, because we are being asked—

   (Mr Schabas) I do not think it has changed. I think you could probably still build it now on a route like Alignment B. It would be more direct, it would be a little faster, it would probably cost about the same, leaving aside obviously that it would delay the process by a year or two and that is an important cost. Whether legally that is something you are supposed to take account of, I do not know, but to me it is still an option, it is still a route they could follow and much nicer for Spitalfields if that was used. I do not see any reason why it is still --- Leaving aside the process issues and you are where you are in terms of getting a Bill through Parliament, going up Whitechapel Road is more direct and would be a better railway in the end to have. It would not have the sharp curve, it could have a better interchange but it would throw the whole Crossrail project back a year or two for sure.

  4733. Is there anything other than the piles at that end of Route B that you want to talk about?
  (Mr Schabas) No, I do not think so.

  4734. Then let me just ask you this. What is the main alternative that has not been considered, the main alternative in terms of the Directive? It is no use looking at Mr Horton for guidance.
  (Mr Schabas) No, sorry, I was not sure if the question was to me or him. To me, there was a main alternative to go from Liverpool Street to Whitechapel and that is going generally along Whitechapel Road straight. There is a straight alignment and there is the one hooking up and they have only put forward—

  4735. It is part of a main alternative?
  (Mr Schabas) That is one way of interpreting the act and if your interpretation or Mr Elvin's interpretation is correct, then with Channel Tunnel Rail Link we wasted a lot of time and money on consultation and alternatives analysis that, I guess, we did not need to bother with.

  4736. Is it so large a part of a main alternative that a route does not include is not a main alternative?
  (Mr Schabas) I am sorry.

  4737. CHAIRMAN: Probably I put in too many negatives.

  4738. LORD SNAPE: You have to explain that one to the Committee as well.

   (Mr Schabas) This is a very odd process anyway because on a railway generally you would say what you wanted the railway to do in general transport terms and then you come up with the route, but here Parliament has already told you that it must go into these ten stations across the middle, so that immediately narrows it down. Then there is still the question how do you build between them and sometimes when you go between them, if they are exactly where they have to be, there is no choice maybe. Between Farringdon and Liverpool Street, it is pretty obvious, there is the Barbican and the Circle Line and deep pile foundations and these are 40-storey buildings and there is a nice gap down the middle, so it would be hard for anybody to argue that it should not go exactly the way it does from Farringdon to Liverpool Street. They drove paths along there a long time ago in the 1960s and it is one little slot and it is pretty obvious. Going from Liverpool Street to Whitechapel, wherever Whitechapel Station exactly is, it seems to me that there are two pretty obvious alternatives. In fact, the one they are promoting, looking at it now, it is not to me obvious at all, it is only historical that I can understand why they are there. It is only historical that they used to go up to the surface of the portal in the old Crossrail scheme to go to Stratford, then they wanted to swing up and have a worksite near the railway. Both of those reasons have gone and people are going to look at that for the next 100 years and say, "Why the hell did the line curve up that way and back down again?"

  4739. CHAIRMAN: I do not think this is what we are talking about. We have got a project which is a railway which runs from Maidenhead to Shenfield. It, of course, includes a number of different component parts, but it is all one scheme, even for convenience it has been broken up into western, central and eastern. It is one scheme. Is your evidence that the failure to consider this small element of it means that a main alternative for the entire scheme has not been properly considered?

   (Mr Schabas) I think that is a legal question. I do not think I could comment on that.

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