In case you missed it, London’s Crossrail might not open until 2021

Keep dreaming lol. Image: Crossrail.

Chris Grayling was, and let’s be kind about this, not a good transport secretary. After his stints as not a good shadow home secretary, quite a bad leader of the House, and actively terrible justice secretary, this came as no particular surprise, and the most shocking thing was that he managed to push on through a month of chaos on the railway network last year without even coming close to being forced to take responsibility for his brief.

His decision not to serve in the Johnson administration was thus one of the few bright spots in the darkness of yesterday’s reshuffle, although it did mean we were denied the satisfaction of seeing him forced out, then tarred and feathered by furious Northern Rail passengers.

It also meant that one of his last acts as transport secretary was to issue this statement about the state of the Crossrail project. It bangs on for an age about all the ways in which it’s been a “challenging year” for London’s multi-billion pound new railway, and the various actions that have been taken – extra money, independent reviews, new management and so on – in the vain hope of getting the bloody thing finished.

Hidden in the middle of it though you’ll find this innocuous sentence:

The announcement in April 2019 of a revised schedule which confirmed a 6 month window for delivery of the central tunnel section between Abbey Wood and Paddington (not including Bond Street), with a mid-point in December 2020, with more certainty to follow as testing progresses.

And December 2020, remember, is the mid-point of the predicted opening window. What this means, in other words, is that the central section of Crossrail – not the entire line, just the new tunnel at its heart – could open as late as March 2021 without the timetable being considered to have slipped any further than it has already. It was originally due to open in December 2018, so if everything from here on goes well, which it very possibly won’t, it’ll open 27 months late.

I don’t wish to personalise this too much, but for those of us who moved house in November 2018 to somewhere we had chosen in part because of its proximity to a Crossrail station, this is really very irritating.

Jonn Elledge is the editor of CityMetric. He is on Twitter as @jonnelledge and on Facebook as JonnElledgeWrites.

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There isn’t a war on the motorist. We should start one

These bloody people. Image: Getty.

When should you use the horn on a car? It’s not, and anyone who has been on a road in the UK in living memory will be surprised to hear this, when you are inconvenienced by traffic flow. Nor is it when you are annoyed that you have been very slightly inconvenienced by another driver refusing to break the law in a manner that is objectively dangerous, but which you perceive to be to your advantage.

According to the Highway Code:

“A horn should only be used when warning someone of any danger due to another vehicle or any other kind of danger.”

Let’s be frank: neither you nor I nor anyone we have ever met has ever heard a horn used in such a manner. Even those of us who live in or near places where horns perpetually ring out due to the entitled sociopathy of most drivers. Especially those of us who live in or near such places.

Several roads I frequently find myself pushing a pram up and down in north London are two way traffic, but allow parking on both sides. This being London that means that, in practice, they’re single track road which cars can enter from both ends.

And this being London that means, in practice, that on multiple occasions every day, men – it is literally always men – glower at each other from behind the steering wheels of needlessly big cars, banging their horns in fury that circumstances have, usually through the fault of neither of them, meant they are facing each other on a de facto single track road and now one of them is going to have to reverse for a metre or so.

This, of course, is an unacceptable surrender as far as the drivers’ ego is concerned, and a stalemate seemingly as protracted as the cold war and certainly nosier usually emerges. Occasionally someone will climb out of their beloved vehicle and shout and their opponent in person, which at least has the advantages of being quieter.

I mentioned all this to a friend recently, who suggested that maybe use of car horns should be formally restricted in certain circumstances.

Ha ha ha. Hah.

The Highway Code goes on to say -

“It is illegal to use a horn on a moving vehicle on a restricted road, a road that has street lights and a 30 mph limit, between the times of 11:30 p.m. and 07:00 a.m.”

Is there any UK legal provision more absolutely and comprehensively ignored by those to whom it applies? It might as well not be there. And you can bet that every single person who flouts it considers themselves law abiding. Rather than the perpetual criminal that they in point of fact are.

In the 25 years since I learned to drive I have used a car horn exactly no times, despite having lived in London for more than 20 of them. This is because I have never had occasion to use it appropriately. Neither has anyone else, of course, they’ve just used it inappropriately. Repeatedly.

So here’s my proposal for massively improving all UK  suburban and urban environments at a stroke: ban horns in all new cars and introduce massive, punitive, crippling, life-destroying fines for people caught using them on their old one.

There has never been a war on motorists, despite the persecution fantasies of the kind of middle aged man who thinks owning a book by Jeremy Clarkson is a substitute for a personality. There should be. Let’s start one. Now.

Phase 2 will be mandatory life sentences for people who don’t understand that a green traffic light doesn’t automatically mean you have right of way just because you’re in a car.

Do write in with your suggestions for Phase 3.