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Cheque out the fruitcake

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Manchester’s metro mayor, Andy Burnham has said he does not believe the government could afford both Crossrail 2 and ‘Crossrail for the North’, The Guardian reported.

[Philip Hammond pressed on rail plans during northern visit, Helen Pidd, The Guardian, 4 Sep 2017]

“We’ve got the cost of HS2, which is a big outlay, we’ve got the cost of Brexit, the divorce bill as it’s called – that’s another big outlay. Are we really saying there’s two £30bn-plus cheques lying around for both Crossrail 2 and Crossrail for the North? Well, we have doubts about that. So we are saying, in that scenario, if he’s going to have to choose, he should choose the north of England and we think parliament would back us up if it came to a choice.”

Burnham said [chancellor Philip] Hammond had failed to provide clarity on what would happen to the Conservatives’ manifesto promise to electrify the key trans-Pennine route between Manchester and Leeds. Over the summer Grayling backtracked and said not all of the line would be electrified because new trains could switch between electric and diesel modes.

“The government is asking the people of the north to accept second best,” Burnham said.

So, if there were just one ‘£30 billion cheque lying around’, should it be used to fund

(a) ‘Crossrail for the North’,
(b) London Crossrail 2, or
(c) something else?

Suppose ‘Crossrail for the North’ took the form of a new-build railway between Liverpool and Hull. What then, would be the point of electrification of the existing Transpennine North railway between Manchester and Leeds?

Even without CftN, the rationale for electrification of Transpennine North is questionable. The likelihood is that nearly all the trains using TPN would still rely on [being fitted with] diesel engines to reach their destination. So perhaps Mr Burnham should stop talking about CftN, and start talking about electrification of Northallerton – Middlesbrough (etc).

As for London Crossrail 2, in its present form, it seems to be a project driven by housebuilding companies, to ‘support the development of up to 200,000 new homes’ in places like the Upper Lea Valley.

dtcr2headline1

So, one might describe Crossrail 2 as a project to house the equivalent of a few months’ population increase, at a cost of £30 billion. (Not including the cost of the houses themselves, or the utilities and other infrastructure they would need.)

What an accurate headline might say

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Written by beleben

September 6, 2017 at 9:27 am

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