Crossrail is the new east-west rail route currently being tunneled under central London. Transport for London, the executive body responsible to the Mayor, has initiated a consultation on what is now known as Crossrail 2, a route from the southwest to the northeast suburbs. The Transport Committee of the London Assembly held a meeting today to discuss this proposal at which I was an invited expert. There was general agreement that this new route should go ahead, given the projections for the growth of London’s population – from 8.2m in 2011 to 10m in the late 2030s.
Car use in London has held steady at about 10m trips a day, constrained by road capacity which has not been enlarged. Because the population has been growing, this volume of car journeys represents a declining share of total trips, down to 38% at present from a peak of 50% in 1990. On current population projections, this share will fall to about 30% before 2040 – a huge mode shift away from the car.
A successful city has two characteristics: its population is growing and it moves people increasingly by rail for work journeys. People will get out of their cars onto rail which is speedy and reliable; they are much more reluctant to prefer slower, less reliable buses.