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New £12billion railway could spell big boom for Islington businesses

Crossrail 2 Crossrail 2

Wednesday, February 6, 2013
2:32 PM

Plans for a new £12billion underground railway through the heart of Islington were unveiled this week.

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Islington Council leader Catherine WestIslington Council leader Catherine West

The proposed route for Crossrail 2, a north east to south west express service, includes stops at King’s Cross and Angel, according to a new report.

The scheme, put forward by business lobby group London First on Tuesday, would mean digging a massive tunnel underneath the borough.

It’s too early to say if the project would involve demolishing homes in its path, but with an estimated 100,000 passengers every day, it could create a vital boom for business in the area.

Cllr Catherine West, leader of Islington Council, said: “It’s wonderful news – it will create a lot of jobs and real investment in Islington – as well as connecting us to the city.

“The building work will provide a massive boost to the economy locally and it will help more people come to visit.”

But, while welcoming of the plans, Christine Lovett, director of Angel Business Improvement District, sounded a note of caution.

She said: “We understand the importance of attracting visitors, making it easy for employees to get to work, and keeping the Angel the buzzy place it is now.

“But we also work closely with residents and would need to know it considers them – both in its construction and its overall impact.”

If the plans are approved, work would start in the 2020s and the new service could open in the early 2030s.

By that point, London’s population is set to hit 10million and the report suggests that without Crossrail 2, some stations will be so congested they would be forced to close during the day to avoid endangering passengers.

Cllr West, chairman of London Councils’ Transport Committee, continued: “It’s good to think about these problems in advance before it gets too late. Anyone who travels on the Northern Line will tell you it’s not fit for purpose.

“The only question is how we pay for it – we need to attract the private sector.

“And we need to make sure there are toilets on it – there could be some long journeys.”

The new line would be bankrolled by a public grant, loans against future revenue and private sector investment.

But London First, chaired by former transport secretary Lord Adonis, said that without Crossrail 2, at least £6billion would need to be to injected into existing Tube and rail infrastructure.

Jo Valentine, chief executive of the thinktank, said: “The UK faces a stark choice: go on investing in London’s transport to keep pace with population and jobs growth – or stifle London’s future success with bottlenecks.”

Other alternatives were explored, including a new eastern branch of the Northern Line between Archway and Finsbury Park, but the impact on congestion was thought to be negligible.

London mayor and Islington resident Boris Johnson said: “The case for the construction of Crossrail 2 is incontestable and is made forcibly in this report.

“Over the next 20 years London’s population is forecast to expand to levels that will clog the Tube and rail arteries of our great city if we do not provide more capacity. There is no time to lose.”

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