Having been contacted by local residents regarding TfL’s proposal to move the planned Crossrail 2 station at Tooting Broadway to Balham, and encouraging residents to respond, local MP Sadiq Khan has provided his response to the Crossrail 2 public consultation.
Sadiq's response to the public consultation
Re: Crossrail 2 Consultation – Tooting Broadway/Balham
I am writing in response to the Crossrail 2 public consultation in my capacity as the Member of Parliament for Tooting.
First, I would like to state my strong support for the Crossrail 2 proposals. The project is an absolutely crucial addition to London’s public transport system, and will build on the soon to be opened Crossrail. It will provide much needed additional capacity to the important SW London – Central London – NE London corridor, and relieve pressure on overcrowded overground and underground routes.
Since the publication of the consultation I have been contacted by a considerable number of my constituents with regards to their preference for a station located at the site originally proposed in Tooting Broadway as opposed to the more recent alternative station located at Balham. Various compelling reasons have been given in support of a station in Tooting Broadway. I will not rehearse all the points made by constituents in their individual responses to the consultations where they have copied me in but have outlined below the main points I would like to be considered;
Balham is already well-served
Many of my constituents have pointed out that while Balham is currently serviced by a London Underground station and a National Rail station with easy connection to Clapham Junction and Victoria, Tooting Broadway is currently serviced by a London Underground station. They note that TfL is willing to invest in infrastructure at a site that is already well-connected simply because it is cheaper to do so. (Both stations are served by bus).
Given that the rail route to and through Tooting Broadway is via the already congested Northern line and that TfL’s initial plans had shown that Crossrail 2 would connect Tooting Broadway with Clapham Junction and Victoria, many are perplexed as to how TfL do not appear to acknowledge the need for a Crossrail 2 site in Tooting Broadway in preference of Balham.
Tooting Broadway is more congested
According to TfL’s own entries and exit count (2014) Tooting Broadway is more congested than Balham station. The published figures state that the footfall through Tooting Broadway was 15.1 million while footfall at Balham 13.5 million. As TfL has stated that “Crossrail 2 will help relieve congestion on busy routes into Central London”, it can be inferred that a site at Balham instead of Tooting Broadway would not be in line with the project’s purpose.
My constituents are understandably passionate about the prospect of having Crossrail 2 come to our part of Wandsworth. Many have attended the drop-in events and responded to the consultation. They have read the published information material and lobbied me with their support for Tooting Broadway. This is despite TfL’s projection that a site at Tooting Broadway would take up to 2 years more than Balham to build. Local residents have indicated to me that they are willing to forego the inconvenience for a few more years given the longstanding need for and benefits of Crossrail 2 in Tooting Broadway.
It is noted that TfL have a duty to place due weight on local support for the Tooting Broadway site given that time, energy and money has been spent on canvassing local opinion.
Local amenities will benefit
The regeneration of Tooting Town Centre and accessibility to St George’s Hospital have been cited as 2 major benefits of a station at Tooting Broadway. Like the matter of local support, the benefit to local amenities is very important.
With nearly 8,500 dedicated staff caring for patients around the clock, St George’s is the largest healthcare provider in southwest London. Not only will a station at Tooting Broadway mean that the hospital has improved accessibility for staff but also that a step-free access station (which Tooting Broadway underground does not currently have) will enable more patients to journey by public transport as opposed to car.
I understand that St George’s Hospital NHS Trust will be responding to the consultation expressing their support for the Tooting Broadway site, setting out further reasons to support a station at Tooting Broadway.
The proposal at Balham will mean that access and ventilation shafts will need to be built on Wandsworth Common, one of a few local green spaces. The Common is well-used by many local residents including families with young children and school groups. I understand that should the shafts be built on the Common that this will cause irreversible damage.
The Tooting Broadway proposal will mean shafts being built on the overflow carpark of Wandsworth Prison. I have supported local campaigners who successfully made TfL look for alternative locations for the original plans for shafts on the Common. They are again concerned that the Common is under threat and have reignited the campaign, and they have my full support.
Impact on Earlsfield residents
Earlsfield Rail station is also located in my constituency which serves residents from across the area. I understand that TfL has confirmed that should the proposed Balham route go ahead that the service through Earlsfield station would be cut by up to 35% during peak times. Although yet to be confirmed by TfL, it is inferred that the same consequence would occur with the route via Tooting Broadway.
I am told that TfL takes the view that the cut in train services via Earlsfield would be mitigated by commuters opting to take the Crossrail 2 route (via Balham) hence easing congestion on the decreased service. A number of my constituents have contacted me saying that they disagree with this view.
It appears that this lessened service at Earlsfield would be better mitigated if Crossrail 2 was routed via Tooting Broadway. This is because some commuters who use Earlsfield station could go to Tooting Broadway instead for Crossrail – but they could not go to Balham due to the distance. This could ease congestion at Earlsfield station and lessen the impact of the decreased train service.
I would ask that residents of Earlsfield and users of Earlsfield station are given an opportunity to communicate their concerns to TfL via a targeted consultation. I would be grateful for your thoughts.
I stand with local residents, resolute that the cost and more challenging nature of building the Tooting Broadway site should not deter TfL from considering it as the more viable option. It appears that no analysis of the benefit of Tooting Broadway has been conducted by TfL. However, local residents have responded en masse to let TfL know that the need and support for Crossrail 2 in Tooting Broadway outweighs that of Balham. As the local MP, I write to echo this position.
Rt Hon Sadiq Khan MP
Member of Parliament for Tooting