Fast rail lines to London to boost property prices and transform towns
London Letter:West Drayton near Heathrow is not one of those towns blessed with, shall we say, a positive image. If pressed, locals will tell you that Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood was born there.
Today, the 14,000-strong town stands at the nexus of motorway routes, near junctions for the M4 and M25, along with having reasonable rail services to London for the dreary journey into the capital every morning.
However, ugly ducklings sometimes become swans. Five years from now, West Drayton will be just 22 minutes from Bond Street and the height of London’s shopping finery, all thanks to the benefits of Cross- rail, the new 73-mile (118km) line that will cross London, linking Berkshire and Buckinghamshire with Essex and Kent, by 2018.
It will run from Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east to Maidenhead in the west, connecting major destinations such as Canary Wharf, Liverpool Street, Bond Street, Padd- ington and Heathrow itself.
Construction began nearly four years ago on a project that is currently Europe’s single largest, set to cost a shade under £15 billion, although the tunnelling of the two lines began less than a year ago from Royal Oak to Farringdon.
The main civil engineering work should be completed by 2017, leaving a year for fitting out stations and testing lines.
Trains will start to run on the central section from late 2018.
The sixth and seventh tunnel- boring machines, known prosaically as TBMs, made their journey over Christmas – dismantled and boxed up – from their German manufacturers to Rotterdam and on to London by Tilbury docks.
The first, TBM 6 – more romantically tagged as Mary, but equipped to deal with the slurry created by the chalk, flint and mud that dominates southeast London – is already drilling under the Thames from Plumstead to North Woolwich, alongside her sister- machine, Sophia.
Hoardings around Tottenham Court Road and more recent ones on Bond Street have begun to awaken Londoners’ interest in Crossrail, although the early birds have already gone looking for property profits.
In one study, international estate consultants, Jones Lang LaSalle claimed prices for homes along its route will jump by up to 57 per cent from 2012 to 2018, comfortably exceeding the returns anywhere else.
The biggest change of fortunes will come on Tottenham Court Road, long one of London’s seediest areas, even though it lies at its heart, and its environs, where prices are expected to rise fastest.
Houses, or apartments on the outskirts of the capital within 1,000 metres from any of the stations along its route, can expect to rise by a third due largely to Crossrail, while those in the middle ground will become 40 per cent more expensive, estate agents predict.