Town Planning Review

Crossrail: the slow route to London's regional express railway

Town Planning Review (2014), 85, (2), 171–190.

Abstract

The Crossrail project was inaugurated in 2010 and is due for completion in 2018, allowing regional trains to run through rail tunnels deep under London and out the other side instead of terminating their journeys at one of the city's nineteenth-century termini. The long-established S-Bahn systems of German cities and the Parisian regional express network, RER, have proved the value of regional urban express networks as infrastructures that facilitate compact, polycentric metropolitan development. London is a very late comer to the RER concept, yet the potential for joining up its radial routes was recognized more than a century ago. Many different combinations have been promoted, but none until now has left the drawing-board. The paper explores the long, unsuccessful history of cross-London rail planning, highlighting the significance of comparison with Paris, and drawing lessons for the contribution of rail to ‘save the city’.

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Author details

Hebbert, Michael