What Will Become of London's Transit Megaproject After Brexit?

London's Crossrail promises faster commutes and neighborhood revitalization in a global economic hub. But what if Brexit puts a damper on that future?
August 18, 2017, 6am PDT | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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George Rex

For the New York Times, Michael Kimmelman writes, "Crossrail is not your average subway. London's $20 billion high-capacity, high-frequency train line, which plans to start taking passengers late next year, is billed as Europe’s biggest infrastructure project. It will be so fast that crucial travel times across the city should be cut by more than half."

But the U.K.'s decision to leave the European Union has sown doubts. "Now, with Brexit, the nightmare scenario is that this massive project, to provide more trains moving more people more quickly through a growing city, ends up moving fewer people more quickly through a shrinking city."

In addition to providing for London's elites, Crossrail was conceived with some social good in mind. "While it will whisk bankers at new speeds from their office towers and multimillion-dollar aeries to Heathrow, it will also help millions of now-marginalized, lower-income workers, unable to afford runaway home prices in and around the center of the city, to live in cheaper neighborhoods often far from their jobs."

After Theresa May's campaign threatened to defund a extension to the line, since then "the government's transport secretary has endorsed the project — provided that the city pay half the whopping cost, upfront. The semi-reversal suggested a grudging acknowledgment that, whatever the political fallout or economic prospects, Britain ultimately needs a thriving London all the more after Brexit."

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Published on Monday, July 31, 2017 in The New York Times
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