The London Underground was and is pivotal to London’s growth and prosperity. It meant the urban poor were able to travel to work cheaply. It meant families were able to move out a little, to where they could afford two rooms rather than one. It meant the end of gruelling daily walks to and from the workplace in all weathers. It meant children being able to see trees and fields. It led to the development of our glorious suburbs and it also led to a less stratified society with people of all classes travelling together on the same trains.
In other words, the London Underground was a revolution and now London is poised on the brink of another. The tunnelling for Crossrail 1 is now complete. The tunnelling for Crossrail 2 could start as soon as 2017. There is already talk of Crossrail 3. The Crossrail revolution is coming. The question is: will Chelsea be part of it?
Personally I hope the answer will be a very big yes.
It will be great for the more than half of residents without cars who rely on public transport. It will be great for the thousands of residents in the west of Chelsea who are a long walk from Sloane Square. And it will be great too for our traffic congestion and our awful air quality, which will never be sorted out without really good public transport alternatives.
But most of all it will be great for connecting those who want to travel further afield.
With a Crossrail 2 station on the King’s Road they could be at St Pancras in less than ten minutes. From there it could be onto HS1 and the continent, from Tottenham Court Road it could be onto Crossrail 1 for Heathrow or for the new Old Oak/Park Royal station where they could catch the HS2.
HS2 will carry them to Birmingham in 40 minutes and then on, at 250 miles an hour, to the “Northern Powerhouse” cities of Sheffield, Leeds, Manchester and Newcastle.
They could be in Glasgow and Edinburgh by lunchtime, unless that is, they are stuck on a bus in a traffic jam on the King’s Road.
However it must be said that not everyone in Chelsea feels quite so positively about Crossrail 2 and unfortunately some claims are being made that just aren’t true: one such example is that the King’s Road station will be as big as “Westfield”, or “five times the size of Peter Jones”; another is that the construction process will be like “suffering the blitz.”
My message is: don’t buy these claims; instead investigate the proposals for yourself, participate in the upcoming consultation, ask questions, and then decide.
You can find out more about the scheme and the consultation at www.rbkc.gov.uk