This article was written by Anna White who is an award-winning property journalist, writing for The Telegraph and the Evening Standard.
The full construction of Crossrail started a decade ago. 2010 signalled significant progress for the high speed rail project which will give fast passage into London’s major employment districts and cultural centres.
Preparatory work on the tunnel entrance at Royal Oak in West London started in January 2010 and by December construction at all new central section stations had started.
It came at a crucial time. In the wake of the global financial crisis, major infrastructure programmes such as Crossrail - and the London 2012 Olympics - provided economic stimulus, jobs and, moreover, hope.
10 years down the line and the £18bn project could be equally as important for the UK recovery - even though the railway is nearing completion.
The Wheels are Turning Once Again
Europe’s largest infrastructure project has suffered delays that were arguably inevitable given its scale and ambition.
The central section of the Elizabeth line - as it has been dubbed - was set to open by March 2021 but earlier this year the new management team were forced to announce set backs.
The London Transport Assembly was told that Crossrail’s management team had underestimated the scale of the task.
They also reckoned without the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic and the unprecedented shutdown of construction sites - which would, naturally, exacerbate delays.
However, essential and business critical work continued throughout lockdown and in June the wheels of construction started turning again.
The Crossrail team now hopes to start trial running the central section by the end of this year (2020). If “trialling” runs smoothly this stretch, which includes 10 stations, will open in earnest next summer (2021).
Crossrail Suits Our Post-Covid World
Crossrail will ferry 200 million people annually from its most western hub of Reading in Berkshire to Shenfield in Essex. It will connect 41 stations including major international destinations such as Paddington, Bond Street, Canary Wharf and Stratford.
Although the COVID-19 crisis is expected to enable more people to work from home more of the time this is not expected to lessen the need for Crossrail.
According to new figures published in May, London will continue to be the fastest growing region of the UK with the population forecast to rise by 1.2 million to 10.3 million by 2041.
As more young people and international workers flood into the capital, families and first-time buyers will fan out along the Elizabeth line in search of both space and convenience.
They will make the most of the new developments close to Crossrail stations across Greater London and into the Home Counties, especially if they do not need to commute every single day. Crossrail makes the ‘best of both worlds’ lifestyle eminently possible.
In the short term, the coronavirus will cause heightened contagion anxiety with some people opting to use the overground rail services, cycling and walking where possible on their commute. However, the direct nature of Crossrail, and the extra capacity, will act as an antidote to this healthcare crisis.
Recent research from Dr Lara Gosce of the Institute of Global Health reveals that people using multiple transport links are more likely to contract flu-like diseases. As a result, a direct journey on Crossrail to the major employment districts, with a walk or cycle at either end, will undoubtedly become a popular way to travel.
Investing on the Elizabeth Line
The mixed-use development is part of the wave of improvement sweeping through the old East End docklands, one of the busiest maritime trade hubs in the world in the 1800s. Orchard Wharf is on the west bank of the Lea River and next to the Bow ecological centre.
The site has two main buildings: a 23-storey tower and one comprising stepped blocks of 20, 17, 14, 11 and eight levels cascading down onto a podium.
The 388 apartments include one, two and three bedroom apartments, duplexes and penthouses with prices starting from £493,000. The new neighbourhood will have a cafe, shops, courtyard gardens, landscaped roof terraces and a day time concierge.
Further east, 12 miles out of central London, St Edwards Court in Romford is well-positioned for easy access to the new Crossrail station.
It’s a 10 minute walk from the Galliard development to the Elizabeth line which, when it opens, will take passengers into Tottenham Court Road in 33 minutes without changing.
Studios, one- and two-bedroom apartments in St Edward’s Court are complete with prices starting from £199,000.
Popular with investors and first-time buyers alike, the large commuter town of Romford is undergoing an upgrade, tied to the arrival of Crossrail.
Galliard’s Citypark Gardens is a seven minute walk from the Southall Crossrail station at the opposite end of the line.
The transport hub is being upgraded to accommodate the Elizabeth line with a new entrance hall, facade and 200 ft-long platforms. The scheme is split into two phases, the Citypark Collection and the Cityloft Collection across three prominent blocks, with leafy communal spaces and three rooftop oases.
The Cityloft Collection is the latest phase of the development, with 22 studios, one ,two or three bedroom apartments, most with a private balcony or terrace.
The promise of Crossrail has driven a wave of regeneration through this part of London, starting in Ealing and spreading along the capital’s western corridor, improving areas such as Southall. With a retail upgrade underway it is considered an investment hotspot.
Infrastructure Investment: The Key to Recovery
Crossrail is not the only infrastructure programme of note underway in London and the wider UK.
An infrastructure fund was announced in May as part of the coronavirus package of reforms with 340 contracts on offer to business across 260 projects.
These projects fall into the categories of social infrastructure, utilities, defence and economic infrastructure (which includes transport and digital).
The Lower Thames Crossing is also referred to in the Government’s Our Plan to Rebuild document. It’s the most ambitious road scheme since the M25 was constructed around the London clock face. The new highway and bridge over the River Thames Estuary will unlock the industrial potential of the east of England and reduce congestion between Kent, Essex and London.
The refurbishment of London’s National Portrait Gallery is also listed as are four new programmes to deliver schools across London.
This time around the Prime Minister seems set on infrastructure investment as a post-pandemic recovery strategy over austerity, starting with the highly-anticipated completion of Crossrail.
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