Select Committee on the Crossrail Bill Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 7260 - 7279)

  7260. MS LIEVEN: Next, Mr Berryman, assuming you were going to do all this work, can we look at Exhibit 4 and can you just take us through the costs that would be involved?[50]51

  (Mr Berryman) Well, the costs are already set out there, I think, fairly plainly. The outturn costs of doing the work would be about £560 million, according to our estimates. That is on the same basis that the project is priced at £16 billion, in other words, it is the outturn. It makes an allowance for inflation between now and when the work is done, and this will be based on the work being completed in 2017 which of course, I think as your Lordships established, would be quite difficult to do now, but that is just for comparative purposes to be on the same basis as the £16 billion.

  7261. CHAIRMAN: Do you get to Ebbsfleet in 2017?

   (Mr Berryman) I think it would be difficult, my Lord, even if we were to start tomorrow. The process of getting a Transport and Works Order, the preparation for that, the actual inquiry and so on and then the construction work, it would be quite difficult to do that in that timescale.

  7262. MS LIEVEN: Just following up on that point, Mr Berryman, quite apart from those things you have just mentioned, because of the operational complexity that you mentioned earlier, would there have to be negotiations and discussions with train operators in order to make this proposal work?

   (Mr Berryman) Indeed there would, although the discussions would more probably take place with the ORR who would be responsible for allocating and adjudicating between timetable allocations in this area. I think it should be mentioned that, as well as the Crossrail project and several other things which were mentioned this morning, there are plans to upgrade London Bridge as part of the Thameslink scheme and that will allow more trains to get onto this network generally because London Bridge is one of the constraints on the system at the moment and, if this were to be four tracks, it would have several benefits other than just directly for Crossrail.

  7263. LORD JAMES OF BLACKHEATH: Would that involve also any upgrading of Cannon Street and Blackfriars because you can only get trains through London Bridge if you shoot them out somewhere and they have got to go to Cannon Street and Blackfriars?

   (Mr Berryman) Yes, my Lord, I think Blackfriars is closing this November to allow it to be completely rebuilt.

  7264. And there will be an extension?

   (Mr Berryman) There will be.

  7265. MS LIEVEN: If we can just stay on the four-tracking for the moment, can you explain to the Committee what the current programme for the consideration of safeguarding for the four-tracking is?

   (Mr Berryman) As I think has been mentioned already this morning, we have already carried out the preliminary consultation with the local authorities and other interested parties. According to the programme, the formal consultation starts in early July, and that is a statutory period of 12 weeks which is required for that. That takes us to the end of September. After we have finished that consultation, there are various steps we need to take, but we would expect to make the safeguarding direction in early December of this year.

  7266. CHAIRMAN: This is for four tracks?

   (Mr Berryman) For four tracks, my Lord.

  7267. And it includes consultation with Bexley?

   (Mr Berryman) And it includes consultation with Bexley, my Lord. We have already had, perhaps we could call it, `pre-application consultation', though, strictly speaking, that is not what you should call it, but we have had the informal consultation already.

  7268. MS LIEVEN: Just to be absolutely clear, Mr Berryman, so that there is no question over the legalities of this, no decision has been made to four-track yet and we would have to make that decision in the light of the consultation responses? Is that right?

   (Mr Berryman) No, I would take you further back than that. No decision has been made to safeguard the four-track. That would need to be made in the light of the consultation responses. A decision about construction would be the next stage of the process after that.

  7269. I do not know whether you are aware or not, but have issues been raised, even in just the level of consultation we have got to already, on the prospect of safeguarding?

   (Mr Berryman) There are always issues in any consultation and there certainly have been issues raised about land-take and so on and so forth, but, having said that, I think all the issues that have been raised are soluble with some additional design work.

  7270. Can we then set aside the four-tracking and just look at what we are proposing in terms of works at Abbey Wood. In terms of the hybrid Bill scheme, so not going east of Abbey Wood to Ebbsfleet, can you just explain what the benefits of the Crossrail Bill scheme are to people east of Abbey Wood?

   (Mr Berryman) Yes, as you explained very roughly this morning, the station at Abbey Wood will be a four-track station with turn-back sidings beyond it, so trains would come in to one of the centre tracks from the Crossrail network and the North Kent trains would be on the outer track, so there would be a pair of tracks running parallel to each other, one with a Crossrail train on it and one with a North Kent train on it with a platform between so that passengers can just walk across the platform to get onto the train they need. The trains would then go forward through the platform and turn round in the turn-back sidings and come back on the other platform so that the same movement could be made in the opposite direction.

  7271. LORD YOUNG OF NORWOOD GREEN: I do not know whether I am going up the up track or down the down track, I do not know whether I am on the right track or on the wrong track, but I will do my best! In the light of the changes that you are making and things that are happening at London Bridge, will that improve any service on the North Kent Line and is there anything that can be done without installing a fourth track that would improve the service on the North Kent Line?

   (Mr Berryman) It is quite difficult to do much without doing something with these tracks in this area. It was a longstanding aspiration of British Rail to do this, to try and ease the problems in the area. When the capacity problems at London Bridge are ameliorated, then it may be possible to do something, but it will not be anything very drastic, I do not think.

  7272. You will be able to run more trains, more carriages?

   (Mr Berryman) You may be able to run slightly more trains through London Bridge.

  7273. Longer trains?

   (Mr Berryman) I think the platforms are already 12-car length, although I believe they only run ten cars at the present time. I am not quite sure of my facts there, but I think that is the case. Certainly if they are not, they can be easily extended to 12 cars.

  7274. LORD JAMES OF BLACKHEATH: They are running 12 at the peak.

  7275. LORD BROOKE OF ALVERTHORPE: Why did the parliamentary statement on the safeguarding of the extension from Maidenhead to Reading come earlier than the one that is currently under way?

   (Mr Berryman) Well, I do not think that it did, my Lord.

  7276. Yes, I came on 6 February.

   (Mr Berryman) Yes, my Lord, but there is already safeguarding in existence to Ebbsfleet and indeed beyond Ebbsfleet to Gravesend.

  7277. This was additional land then?

   (Mr Berryman) This is additional land, my Lord. I have to say, the design problems of going to Reading are much easier to resolve than those in the area we are talking about here. There are a number of unresolved issues, and I will not go into the details, but at Gravesend, for example, where the trains would need to go for stabling, there is an aspiration of the local authority to reopen the Thames and Medway Canal which runs alongside the tracks, and there is an Area of Special Scientific Interest. I have got quite a long list, my Lord, of matters which need to be resolved. They are all soluble, but it takes time to do that, to resolve them.

  7278. But you would expect us to have these before us when we are given proposals by an authority that we should be seeking to amend the Bill?

   (Mr Berryman) I believe it is the Petitioner who is asking you to amend the Bill, not us. We have draft drawings, but I am afraid they are a work-in-progress at the moment.

  7279. Do I take it that you are reasonably optimistic, given that there are solutions to many of the problems facing you, that, come December, there is a fair possibility that it will be safeguarded?

   (Mr Berryman) Yes, my Lord, and that is our programme. We have a reasonably good record of keeping to programme on these kinds of issues.

50   51 Crossrail Ref: P49 Indicative Cost Estimate for extension from Abbey Wood to Ebbsfleet Franchise (BEXYLB-44_04-004) Back

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