Catching sardines in 2015 – HS3 and Crossrail 2

James McEwan

You wouldn’t know it, but there’s a general election just around the corner.

On Monday, David Cameron and George Osborne once again donned their fluorescent jackets and PPE to launch plans for HS3 – an £8 billion high-speed rail line connecting Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Newcastle and Hull. Although the details have yet to be worked out, the benefits could be huge, with journey times between Leeds and Manchester halved to 26 minutes.

Never one to be outdone when it comes to political showmanship or plugging big infrastructure, on Wednesday London Mayor Boris Johnson revealed the proposed route for Crossrail 2 – a £20 billion route from Surrey to Hertfordshire via Central London. Labour’s Claire Kober, Leader of Haringey Council, was quick to celebrate plans for up to five stations in her borough.

Politicians of all parties love to be at the fore of big transport projects. They like to get close to the action, be seen as commuter champions and, of course, take a little of the credit for the idea in the first place. But they can also bring weight and legitimacy to a scheme, as well as opening doors to decision-makers higher up the food chain.

Not everyone wants a new rail line or road in their area – just look at the opposition to HS2. But in the right circumstances new transport infrastructure isn’t only beneficial for those seeking election, or commuters, it also boosts land values and can be a springboard for development, whether at Ebbsfleet, Haringey, Milton Keynes or Euston Station.

It’s no coincidence that, on Thursday, Tory MP Dominic Raab used a debate at Westminster Hall to claim commuters were packed like “sardines” on some rail services into London, in conditions that were “sub-cattle class”.

At the same event, Rail Minister Claire Perry revealed she had been ‘mystery shopping’ on the ten busiest commuter routes in the UK to get a better understanding of overcrowding.

Well, if you do happen to find yourself within a sardine’s whisker of Ms Perry on your Monday commute, you know just what to say – ask her to back the transport project important to you or your client.

Alternatively, you can give Local Dialogue a call.

James McEwan