Crossrail 1 and European interoperability
On the 6 March edition of BBC tv’s Andrew Marr Show, London mayor and ‘Brexit’ supporter Boris Johnson gave an example of what he considered as bad European Union regulations.
[Did the EU try to make Crossrail tunnels bigger?,
Lewis Goodall, BBC Newsnight, 8 Mar 2016]
[Boris Johnson:] “Such is the Stockholm syndrome capture of officials in this country that they decided to interpret the directive on the interoperability of trans-European networks in such a way as to insist that Crossrail tunnels had to be 50% bigger in order to accommodate German trains in the vanishingly unlikely eventuality of German trains needing to go down the Crossrail tunnel. That would have cost billions and we had to spend literally a year trying to fend off that demand.”
But Transport for London has told BBC News that this is not true.
Its spokesperson contradicted the Mayor, who is the chairman of the organisation, by saying:
“The Crossrail programme was at an advanced stage when the directive was adopted by the UK. Crossrail construction commenced in 2009, tunnelling for Crossrail commenced in May 2012, with the final tunnel-boring machine concluding its journey in May 2015. The Department for Transport subsequently requested that Crossrail seek an exemption (derogation) from the Directive on Interoperability, which was successfully obtained in 2012. The administrative process to gain the derogation had no impact on the Crossrail construction programme.”
So TfL says the Mayor’s office didn’t have anything to do with it. The Department for Transport, far from seeking to impose this, asked for an opt out, which they received without difficulty.
And the process didn’t affect the Crossrail tunnels at all because by the time the directive came into place the tunnels had almost been completed anyway.
When Mr Johnson spoke of “German trains”, he meant ‘trains built to UIC vehicle gauge GC’ or suchlike. However, building the Crossrail 1 tunnels with dual use capability, to accommodate such trains, might have been an interesting proposition.
Earlier plans for Crossrail 1 included a route to Ebbsfleet, running close to the existing Channel Tunnel Rail Link (HS1). So, with some additional infrastructure works, there would have been the possibility of running Continental-size passenger trains to west London or beyond.
In principle, Continental freight from HS1 could also have been accommodated. Unfortunately, HS1 was very badly designed, with gradients which are problematic for efficient freight operation.
Obviously, constructing a GC connection purely for European traffic, as was proposed by HS2 Ltd between HS1 and HS2 Old Oak Common, would have been a terrible misuse of resources (because of the low demand). But the costs of building Crossrail 1 infrastructure for dual use, would have been far lower.