With cuts in the offing, many schemes are likely to get the chop. Crossrail, in its present incarnation, must surely be a prime candidate. It began as a much-needed east-west relief route to the Central and Metropolitan Lines and has ended up as a regional express line through London, an east-west counterpart to Thameslink.
Now Thameslink is not a good model to follow. First, it transfers delays across networks that are otherwise independent. Disruption at, say, Luton, will eventually cause problems at Haywards Heath, and vice versa. Second, it means that passengers are forced to travel in discomfort for long distances in trains that are designed for short journeys in crush-loading conditions. Third, the trains must be dual voltage, with heavy transformer equipment that is inefficient on the city-centre stretches of route with closely-spaced stops.
Precisely the same objections will apply to Crossrail. In addition, because so much of the route is in tunnel, there will be substantial extra costs due to the extra clearances that will be needed, and which could have been avoided if the line had been constructed for third-rail electrification or even to the tube gauge.
What could be cut?
What can be cut depends on how far the scheme has progressed. Substantial savings could be realised if the line from Paddington to Stratford and Woolwich could be built as a tube. At the western end of the route, trains might run to Hammersmith via Ladbroke Grove, which would be a useful enhancement to the service. At the eastern end of the route, given a suitable realignment with an end-on connection to the Jubilee Line, trains might run on to Stanmore, avoiding the need for reversing.
Another alternative might be to build the underground section as a DC route with third-rail electrification, again running to Hammersmith.
DC electrification would also enable the line to operate with DC-only stock, which might be the class 378/1 type or the new S-type, but could be existing LUL stock refurbished. There is a very substantial fleet that will be going for scrap when the S-type is introduced; if times are as hard as we are being told they are, there scope for a saving here.
There are of course, further savings to be had from this strategy because existing class 315 stock on Great Eastern suburban routes will be kept in service for another couple of decades. It isn't wonderful but it does the job and there are improvements that can be made that disguise its age from all but the train-spotting fraternity.