Response to Crossrail 2 consultation

Read our full response to Transport for London's Crossrail 2 consultation below. This was submitted in January 2016. 

Find out more about Crossrail 2

Our response

8 January 2016

The council continues to support the principle of the Crossrail 2 project and the transport and economic benefits that it will bring to both the borough and to London but considers that it is important to ensure that the Borough gets the maximum benefit from this new line.

Crossrail 2 would bring significant additional rail capacity to the Borough and provide a number of new direct travel opportunities and improved journey times. The improvement in accessibility can also lead to local economic regeneration as witnessed by the upturn in areas of south and east London, at least in part resulting from the introduction of the East London Line. The council has previously supported a station at Tooting Broadway as this would provide a direct link between Tooting Broadway and Clapham Junction and Wimbledon, which do not currently exist. It was considered that this would provide further economic regeneration to the Tooting Broadway area and greater accessibility to employment for its residents. These benefits are not considered to be as great at Balham.  For this reason, the council is opposed to the revised alignment between Clapham Junction and Wimbledon, which proposes an intermediate station at Balham, as outlined in the consultation and the Factsheet S12.

The council considers that a strong and persuasive case had been made for a station at Tooting Broadway during the earlier consultations. The council remains of this view and supports an alignment that serves Tooting Broadway.  It is important, therefore, that the council can understand why a station at Tooting Broadway is no longer a preferred option within the project and consider that TfL has made this decision prematurely and needs to make available additional information and undertake substantial evaluation before any decision on the alignment can be agreed. It is important that TfL undertake a full and open evaluation of the route options, particularly the difference in costs and benefits between a station at Balham and Tooting Broadway. This should include a full evaluation of the socio-economic, operational, financial and environmental issues.

Some information has now been provided on the expected impact of Crossrail 2 on existing rail services and the potential trip movements but no detailed information has been provided on journey patterns resulting from Crossrail 2. There is a concern that the services coming in from Surrey will already be close to capacity when they reach this Borough. Initial data provided by TfL identifies that each Crossrail 2 train can carry 1,500 passengers (450 of which are seated). Thirty trains per hour (tph) equates to an extra 135,000 (40,500 seated) additional capacity in the 3 hour peak period in each direction. The rail modelling work forecasts that in the AM peak period in 2041 the London bound loadings will be 44,161 between Wimbledon and Tooting/Balham, 61,864 between Tooting/Balham and Clapham Junction and 72,533 between Clapham Junction and Kings Road. This would indicate that there would be spare capacity for boarders in this borough, but that they are unlikely to get a seat.

TfL has also indicated that they will start 10 tph at Wimbledon, which would provide a greater likelihood of spare capacity and a seat when boarding in this borough. It is understood that any reduction in the use of existing rail services into London Termini, will be replaced with additional longer distance services not local suburban services. This impression is not helped by it being referred to as a rail link between Surrey and Hertfordshire and the Solent and the Wash, a different concept to the original Chelsea Hackney Line. Details of these potential service changes are required so that the council can seek to ensure that the borough’s residents get maximum benefit from Crossrail 2 and any associated changes in train service patterns.

20. Do you have any comments about the proposals for a Crossrail 2 station at King's Road Chelsea?

The council has supported the principle of a station in the Kings Road / Worlds End area, although its preference was for a station in the Worlds End area such that it was more accessible from Battersea Bridge and North Battersea. A station in that area would provide new direct links from Clapham Junction. However, it is acknowledged that there is a high profile local campaign opposed to a station at the current proposed site on the Kings Road. Any change in the proposals would impact on the alignment between London Victoria and Clapham Junction and potentially on the alignment of the station at Clapham junction and the intermediate ventilation shaft / emergency access proposed at Westbridge Road. A more direct alignment between Victoria and Clapham Junction has limited open space to locate a worksite and the council would ask to be party to any revised routings and the identification of associated intermediate sites (ventilation and emergency access) at the earliest opportunity. It is considered that Battersea Park, a listed heritage asset would not be suitable as a proposed worksite. The council would still support a station in the Worlds End area as offering greater accessibility for the area of North Battersea.

21 Do you have any comments about the proposals for a Crossrail 2 station at Clapham Junction?

The council is a strong supporter of a Crossrail 2 station at Clapham Junction. It brings widespread improvements in accessibility, not only to residents and businesses in Clapham Junction but also to all those able to interchange from both other rail services and bus services. The physical details of Crossrail 2 and how it would affect the station are still unclear as the actual design of the station would require substantial additional work. The design allowing improved interchange between Crossrail 2 and existing rail services and between existing rail services will be complex, given the range and scale in interchange both current and forecast for Clapham Junction station.

It is noted that the areas identified as worksites in Factsheet S11 are different to those safeguarded in March 2015. A much larger worksite is now identified on the south-west side of the station, where it now takes all of the sidings. This is existing operational railway land and the council would not oppose this larger worksite on the basis that the residential properties to its western flank are not adversely impacted upon. It is also important that the existing SW Trains services are not adversely impacted either during construction or subsequent operation of Crossrail 2 as these services are critical to serving the borough and wider afield.

To the north of the station adjacent to Grant Road, there is now a smaller site shown in Factsheet S11. During the previous safeguarding consultation, the council had expressed serious concern about the previous size of the worksite, which was subsequently safeguarded in March 2015. Following the safeguarding consultation there has been significant discussion between TfL and council officers on the size and location of the worksite. It conflicted with the Council’s master plan proposals for the Winstanley and York Road estates and the creation of a Housing Zone, agreed by the GLA that incorporated the worksite area. The worksite now shown is smaller than the safeguarded site and this is welcomed although any further reductions in size would be further welcomed. It is unclear how this worksite would operate in respect to Grant Road, the permanent realignment of which is referred to in factsheet S11, and the relocation of the bus stand, but these issues should be considered as details are brought forward.

A third worksite is now identified at Clapham Junction, although a precise boundary is not demarcated, it is located on or adjacent to the ShopStop entrance. This is currently the main entrance to the station and while there are proposals from Network Rail that may have radically altered the entrance by this time, concern is raised about maintaining the operation of the station during the construction period for Crossrail2.The fact sheet makes reference to “Minimising the impact” and the council will seek to work closely with TfL to ensure that this is achieved.

22. Do you have any comments about the proposals for a shaft at Westbridge Road, between Clapham Junction and King's Road Chelsea?

The Westbridge Road ventilation shaft is outlined in Factsheet G2 and would appear to be the same as the safeguarded site approved in March 2015. The council expects further discussion on this location to ensure that its impact can be minimised both during construction and in its subsequent operation as a ventilation and emergency access location. This should include consideration of the actual construction and the lorry movements required to remove the spoil from the digging of the shaft as this location is within a residential area with a congested road network.  While examples of the head house are provided in the factsheet, its final design will be critical and the Council would ask that the Council and local community are included in the process to agree its final design.

23. Do you have any comments about the proposals for a Crossrail 2 station at Balham?

The council has supported proposed stations at Clapham Junction and Tooting Broadway and was surprised to learn that only now at this stage in the development of the scheme, significant geological difficulties have been identified with the construction of a station at Tooting Broadway. The council accepts that more detailed  information will be identified as a scheme progresses but it remains unclear as to why these issues had not come to light  prior to the safeguarding in March 2015, especially when they appear so fundamental to the proposed choice of alignment.

A proposed station at Balham instead of Tooting Broadway means that there is a fundamental change in the impact of Crossrail 2 on the Borough, not just in terms of the station location and its local impact but also in the fact that it would require a substantive change in the route alignment between Clapham Junction and Wimbledon.

The council supports a station at Tooting Broadway not only because of the transport benefits it would bring to the area, but also for the economic development and regeneration benefits that would come to the area which is significantly higher on the Index of Multiple Deprivation than the rest of the borough, with the exception of the Roehampton area. The safeguarded worksites, while having a significant impact on the town centre, were considered to be worthwhile for the long term gain that would accrue. There was broad support for a station at Tooting Broadway, both at previous consultations and at the Tooting Community Engagement Group set up by TfL.

The proposal for a station at Balham has not seen the same local support. A website set up by Dan Watkins, the Conservative Parliamentary Spokesman for Tooting, had 2,857 responses by 22/12/15, the vast majority in favour of Tooting Broadway, with support for Tooting Broadway coming from all areas. It is expected that the findings from this website will be submitted as a response to this consultation.

The proposed worksites required for a Balham station have looked to minimise the impact on the town centre, but the potential loss of the Waitrose supermarket has met with considerable local concern. This proposed worksite would also sit very central to the town centre and is likely to have a detrimental effect on all of the town centre businesses. The town centre has recently benefitted from significant   investment through the Outer London Fund and there is a significant risk that these recent improvements could be reversed if there is a large worksite in this location.  TfL is requested to review other opportunities within the town centre that would have less impact.

The council is concerned that this current consultation appeared to be proposing a station at Balham and did not initially make reference to the Tooting Broadway station, other than dismissing it as too difficult in comparison to a station at Balham (Factsheet  S12). Following significant concerns raised at an early stage of the consultation an additional factsheet (S12B) was published and added to the consultation website. However, there remains no specific question relating to Tooting Broadway, which will undoubtedly impact on how people respond to the Balham / Tooting Broadway options. This attempted to provide further information about the alternative station locations at Tooting Broadway and Balham. However it is clear that any real assessment of the two station locations is at a very early stage and it is not possible to provide a detailed evaluation of the station locations at this time.

The key problem facing a station at Tooting Broadway is related to the apparent poor and uncertain ground conditions. The identification of geological faults in the Tooting Area means that the preferred soil type of London Clay if far shallower and there is greater uncertainty of what ground conditions are actually there. In addition, TfL consider that this will also mean substantially more water will be in the ground, which will also create problems for tunnel and station construction. TfL has also provided an Independent Opinion on the Geotechnical aspects by Geotechnical Consulting Group, which has been made available as part of the consultation material. The Council does not have its own internal expertise on tunnelling and associated geotechnical matters and has sought external expert advice. Given the short time scale and lack of available detail, they have only been able to provide relatively high level comments.

It is noted from the information provided that:-

  • TfL themselves have carried out no ground investigation yet but have relied on boreholes sunk in the past. This is not unusual for this stage in such a project, but means that there are still significant uncertainties about the actual ground conditions that Crossrail 2 will encounter.  
  • TfL recognise that the locations of geological faults in this area are not precise, and it is likely that there will be a zone of faulting rather than a single fault as indeed has been shown in the diagram of the Streatham Fault at Tooting. The implications of this  are:
  1. that it is not clear that Balham Station will avoid faulted ground (although the risk appears to be lower for Balham than Tooting Broadway). Balham Station is  near to the conjectured Wimbledon Fault and it appears that the depth to the base of the London Clay at Balham Station is only established from one borehole several hundred metres away.
  2. it is possible that the severity of ground conditions at Tooting Broadway is currently overestimated.
  • TfL has proposed that a Balham station, assuming it to be in London Clay, would be constructed by excavation from a vertical shaft at each end, using the Sprayed Concrete Lining (SCL) method, and that Tooting Broadway in the fault zone and involving Lambeth Group and Chalk, would need to be constructed using a combination of box structures from ground level where possible and SCL and ground freezing elsewhere. These two methods have implications for the land take – the SCL method is likely to need less land than the box structures.
  • It is accepted that given the current construction methods proposed that a station at Tooting Broadway would be more expensive and have a longer construction time. This cost of a Tooting Broadway station might be reduced if a worksite can be identified at Tooting Broadway that is more amenable to  alternative construction methods. It is not immediately obvious if this can be achieved, given the built up nature of the Tooting Broadway area, but this option should be considered.
  • Given the evidence provided it is accepted that TfL might wish to investigate the potential for a station at Balham, but it is considered that further work is  required to  investigate opportunities at Tooting Broadway and that the business case and relative merits of  both need to be explored further before any change in route alignment  can be considered. This should include additional project specific ground investigations to be undertaken to confirm and improve the existing ground model. If these are undertaken, it is recommended that the design of the ground investigation be aimed both at establishing the geological model at the station (i.e. extent and nature of faulting) and the specific ground and groundwater conditions at the locations of proposed major structures. 
  • It can be confirmed that TfL are in discussion with the council to seek agreement on potential sites for boreholes in both the Balham and Tooting Broadway areas. The council will assist in facilitating these investigations as quickly as possible.
  • The basis of the Geotechnical Consulting Group letter would appear to be the report entitled ‘Tooting Broadway Station Geological Issues – Background Information’, dated September 2015. A review of this report identifies that the stratigraphy at Tooting Broadway is set out in Section 3, in which Table 1 seems to suggest that the top of the Thanet Sand (expected to be 10m above the top of the chalk) is at 63m and 52m below ground level (bgl) at the south end and north end respectively.  However, the top of chalk level given in Appendix 1 of the same report appears to be 45m bgl at the south and 35m bgl at the north end.  These are inconsistent and should be clarified.
  • A conclusion of the technical report is that re-routing from Tooting Broadway to Balham is ‘likely to have little BCR impact’ (which is not defined but which is taken to mean Benefit Cost Ratio).  If this were true then there would be little reason to change; however this statement is more likely to mean that the benefits change little with a move from Tooting Broadway to Balham.  There is no evidence or discussion about the BCR presented in that report to support the conclusion, and further clarification is required. The council is of the opinion that the long term benefits over the life of the project are far greater at Tooting Broadway. 

It would appear that there is no dispute that the benefits of a station at Tooting Broadway are greater than at Balham. This is in terms of additional homes and new jobs unlocked by Crossrail 2, degree of relief to the Northern Line, improved accessibility to St George’s Hospital and other transport benefits. However, TfL believe that a station at Tooting Broadway will cost almost twice as much to construct than one at Balham and take 9 years and 6 months as opposed to 8 years and 3 months. What is not clear is what the long-term BCR is in comparing these two station locations.

In summary, it is considered that TfL should provide the following additional information such that they can better show the comparison between a station at Balham and Tooting Broadway:-

  • The proposed station arrangements (cross sections and plans), construction methods and cost & programme estimates that lead to the respective cost, programme and lorry movement figures for Balham and Tooting Broadway.
  •  Any sensitivity assessment that has been carried out on the uncertainties in ground conditions and their implications, at the two station locations.
  • Any investigations carried out to examine whether it is feasible to obtain a different land take at Tooting Broadway to facilitate a more efficient station arrangement in the light of the new ground information.
  • The borehole plan provided would appear to be Figure 2 of a report.  What is the report and are any other parts of it relevant?
  • The borehole logs that are being relied upon for the anticipated stratigraphy at Tooting Broadway station.
  • Are TfL continuing to investigate both Balham and Tooting Broadway, as might be understood from the technical documents provided, or is only the Balham route now being pursued?  

To conclude the council is requesting that TfL undertakes a full cost/benefit assessment of the “Balham or Tooting Broadway” issue that compares the cost of the whole of each alternative route from Wimbledon to Clapham Junction and  compares this with a full operational, economic, environmental and social impact of the alternative alignments.

24. Do you have any comments about the proposals for a shaft at the eastern edge of Wandsworth Common, between Balham and Clapham Junction?

The council supports TfL in its application of criteria to identify intermediate shafts for ventilation and emergency access. It is appropriate to seek locations that avoid property acquisition, particularly in current residential use, if existing open space or vacant brownfield sites can be identified. However, both an earlier  location  identified on Wandsworth Common as part of the safeguarding consultation and this current proposal on a different part of Wandsworth Common have attracted  significant opposition from local residents. There is a clear concern about the potential dangers of having a worksite located on the Common and the disruption it would cause both during the construction period and longer term with the resulting head-house.

It is understood that the location of the shaft does not have that much flexibility as it needs to offer both a means of ventilating the tunnel but also provide a means of emergency access/egress. The council has sought guidance from the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA). The LFEPA has informed the Council that the ‘Technical Specification for Interoperability Safety in Railway Tunnels (TSI)’ allows 3 alternative options to provide access to a safe area, namely

  1. Lateral or vertical emergency exits to the surface , at most 1km apart, (as per the RSPG) or
  2. Cross passages enabling the adjacent independent tunnel to be used as a safe area at most 500m apart (with intervention shafts as far apart as deemed appropriate) ,or
  3. Alternative technical solutions providing a safe area with a minimum equivalent level of safety, as demonstrated using the common safety method.(essentially a fire engineered evaluation)

As a result of the TSI, it is now possible to have intervention shafts/stations spaced in excess of 1km apart as long as cross passages are provided in accordance with element 2 of the TSI.  This is on the basis that firefighting operations and means of escape will be provided via the nearest cross passage to/from the non-incident bore.  The non-incident bore is seen as a place of relative safety. Crossrail1 spacing was agreed at 2km between intervention shafts/stations and 500m between cross passages.  This was on the basis of the above philosophy and that this was seen to be reasonable provision for access/egress.  However, there remains the additional need to ventilate the operational running tunnels, which adds a further requirement. TfL’s view is required as to what the maximum distances possible are for ventilation purposes.

The council is also concerned about the likely impact of construction related traffic on Bolingbroke Grove, which is a local residential road and is unsuitable for large movements of heavy goods vehicles. It would be important to consider accessibility to any alternative worksites identified.

On the basis of the above it is considered that there is some scope to relocate the shaft away from Bolingbroke Grove. TfL are therefore asked to review the location of the intermediate shaft between Clapham Junction and Balham to reduce its impact upon users of the Common. Local residents have also proposed alternative shaft locations both on Wandsworth Common and on Clapham Common. The council would ask that TfL considers these proposals as part of its review of alignments. It is understood that it is common for exact shaft numbers and locations to be determined at a later stage in the project than that of Crossrail 2 now, as the fire-life safety strategy, land availability and construction methods are developed. However, given the level of concern that the current locations are generating the council would ask that these matters are resolved as early as possible.

25. Do you have any comments about the proposals for a shaft at Weir Road, between Wimbledon and Balham?

The shaft in Weir Road is located on the Weir Road Industrial site but also on the proposed depot site for the stabling of Crossrail 2 trains. It is adjacent to the borough boundary with Wandsworth, but at a section close to Garratt Park and therefore likely to have limited impact on residential property. If this site was to be used it would be important to retain pedestrian and cyclist access along the Wandle as existing. The area is also in a flood risk zone from the River Wandle. The council would seek to input to the development of this intermediate site to ensure its impact on this borough is minimised.

26. Do you have any comments about the proposals for a shaft within the Springfield development, between Wimbledon and Balham?

There is a shaft proposed at Springfield hospital on both the Balham and Tooting Broadway station alignments. With a station at Balham it would lie between Balham and Wimbledon and be 1 of 2 intermediate shafts, the other being at Weir Road (see question 25).  On the Tooting Broadway alignment it lies between Clapham Junction and Tooting Broadway and be one of two intermediate shafts the other being on a site to the north of the nursery on Heathfield Road.

There is only limited detail provide on the location of the shaft on Springfield Hospital. This is currently Metropolitan Open Land and is currently forms part of a golf course. There is a live outline planning permission for Springfield Hospital for a mixed use development. The golf course would become publicly accessible open space, although the area has been divided into   specific use. A recent application (2015/5036)  was  considered by the Planning Applications committee in December 2015 and included detailed proposals for the open space  now proposed by TfL as a location for an intermediate shaft.  TfL will need to consider the impact of this shaft site on the long term proposals included in the planning permission.

As for all shaft sites, it will be important to ensure that they have minimal impact on the local environment during the construction phase. Also the design of the final head house will be important in gaining their acceptability. It is proposed that the local community is given an opportunity to influence the design either through a design competition or further public consultations.

27. Do you have any comments about the proposals for a Crossrail 2 station at Wimbledon?

The council supports the provision of a station at Wimbledon, which provides an interchange with both Network Rail services and with the District Line, providing access to the western side of the borough. While no passenger flows are provided it is likely that it should free up some capacity on the Wimbledon Branch of the District Line, which is heavily congested in the peak periods. The council would not wish to make any detailed comments on the layout and design of the station at Wimbledon, but it must provide an easy interchange with existing rail, tram and bus services that currently use Wimbledon.

28. Do you have any comments about the proposals for a tunnel portal at Gap Road, north of Wimbledon?

No Comment, other than the need to manage the construction phase to minimise the impact on the local area and to use rail for the removal of spoil and the delivery of materials to the site.

29. Do you have any comments about the proposals for a Crossrail 2 depot and stabling facility at Weir Road, between Wimbledon and Balham?

Weir Road is located in the London Borough of Merton, but adjacent to the borough boundary with Wandsworth. The safeguarding included the Wimbledon Traincare Depot that lies immediately to the west of Weir Road. While there is no immediate comment on this revised proposal it will be important to retain an adequate strip of green land adjacent to the River Wandle and any environmental impact from this site will need to be minimised in terms of its effect on Wandsworth residents to the east and north, including the council’s travellers site at Trewint Street, which sits at the northern end of the Weir Road Industrial estate.

35-40 South-West Branches

The South West branches’ are outside of this borough but train services on them will likely pass through Wandsworth. It is important that Crossrail 2 brings enhanced travel opportunities and additional rail capacity to South London including this borough. For that reason it is important that these trains are not filling up outside London and in Outer London, such that they are not providing the additional capacity to serve London. Figures provided by TfL suggest that given current passenger forecasts that Wandsworth residents will be unlikely to get a seat on a Crossrail 2 train. It is understood that 10 trains per hour will start in Wimbledon, providing a greater chance that capacity will be available in Merton and Wandsworth. In terms of enhanced development opportunities and greater capacity the use of the Wimbledon Loop to Sutton would offer alternative destinations. It is important that where branches pass out of Greater London then the County is required to contribute in the same way that London will to the funding of Crossrail 2, while also accepting a higher degree of local and sub-regional growth.