Letter: Some more possible options for a Euston-Canary Wharf express tube

Yaaay, Euston. Image: Getty.

Last week we ran a story under the headline “Could London get a new tube line from Canary Wharf to Euston?” In it, editor Jonn Elledge reported news that the Canary Wharf Group had submitted plans to the government for a new rail link from their expensive set of office blocks to Euston station, to prepare for the arrival of High Speed 2.

Jonathan Roberts, a transport consultant and contributor to the excellent London Reconnections, got in touch with his thoughts on the matter. We present them, lightly edited, below…

There is ‘previous’ for a Canary-Euston link. The Waterloo-Canary express tube – really a ‘Drain’ [like the Waterloo & City line] to Canary, rather than to the City – was transmogrified into the Jubilee Line extension, and ended up being largely funded by others.

However, this time think of the original Waterloo-Canary-Greenwich Peninsula limited stop express tube scheme, and realign so it is Euston-Canary limited stop express tube. I’ve noted the interest of the London Borough of Southwark, and also the distance – 8.5km – stated in New Civil Engineer.

From South Dock to the far side of ‘New’ Euston in a straight line is 9.25 km (5.75 miles).

From fully alongside Crossrail North Dock station to the far side of ‘New’ Euston is 8.95 km (5.55 miles).

From fully alongside Crossrail North Dock to a double-ended Euston-St Pancras (under the Euston Road in this instance) is 8.75 km (5.42 miles).

From a shorter North Dock station to a double-ended Euston-St Pancras is 8.5 km (5.28 miles).

That could serve all Euston trains, Thameslink, St Pancras and all Kings Cross trains.

What’s the journey time at 50-60 mph average speed? About 10 minutes if no intermediate stops. However, Old Street or Spitalfields might be very interesting as new connectivity and new sources of local travel, at the cost of a longer overall journey time.

But an 8.5km scheme could run from the South Dock to a station terminating at Euston from the SE – passing close to or under Farringdon, and under the City.

So there are several interpretative options, depending on whether or not there might be intermediate stops and precisely where those might be (and how you might route it to avoid tall City buildings). Some options:

Click to expand.

Definitely a scheme to watch.

Oh, we will.


“Without rent control we can’t hope to solve London’s housing crisis”

You BET! Oh GOD. Image: Getty.

Today, the mayor of London called for new powers to introduce rent controls in London. With ever increasing rents swallowing more of people’s income and driving poverty, the free market has clearly failed to provide affordable homes for Londoners. 

Created in 1988, the modern private rented sector was designed primarily to attract investment, with the balance of power weighted almost entirely in landlords’ favour. As social housing stock has been eroded, with more than 1 million fewer social rented homes today compared to 1980, and as the financialisation of homes has driven up house prices, more and more people are getting trapped private renting. In 1990 just 11 per cent of households in London rented privately, but by 2017 this figure had grown to 27 per cent; it is also home to an increasing number of families and older people. 

When I first moved to London, I spent years spending well over 50 per cent of my income on rent. Even without any dependent to support, after essentials my disposable income was vanishingly small. London has the highest rent to income ratio of any region, and the highest proportion of households spending over a third of their income on rent. High rents limit people’s lives, and in London this has become a major driver of poverty and inequality. In the three years leading up to 2015-16, 960,000 private renters were living in poverty, and over half of children growing up in private rented housing are living in poverty.

So carefully designed rent controls therefore have the potential to reduce poverty and may also contribute over time to the reduction of the housing benefit bill (although any housing bill reductions have to come after an expansion of the system, which has been subject to brutal cuts over the last decade). Rent controls may also support London’s employers, two-thirds of whom are struggling to recruit entry-level staff because of the shortage of affordable homes. 

It’s obvious that London rents are far too high, and now an increasing number of voices are calling for rent controls as part of the solution: 68 per cent of Londoners are in favour, and a growing renters’ movement has emerged. Groups like the London Renters Union have already secured a massive victory in the outlawing of section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions. But without rent control, landlords can still unfairly get rid of tenants by jacking up rents.

At the New Economics Foundation we’ve been working with the Mayor of London and the Greater London Authority to research what kind of rent control would work in London. Rent controls are often polarising in the UK but are commonplace elsewhere. New York controls rents on many properties, and Berlin has just introduced a five year “rental lid”, with the mayor citing a desire to not become “like London” as a motivation for the policy. 

A rent control that helps to solve London’s housing crisis would need to meet several criteria. Since rents have risen three times faster than average wages since 2010, rent control should initially brings rents down. Our research found that a 1 per cent reduction in rents for four years could lead to 20 per cent cheaper rents compared to where they would be otherwise. London also needs a rent control both within and between tenancies because otherwise landlords can just reset rents when tenancies end.

Without rent control we can’t hope to solve London’s housing crisis – but it’s not without risk. Decreases in landlord profits could encourage current landlords to exit the sector and discourage new ones from entering it. And a sharp reduction in the supply of privately rented homes would severely reduce housing options for Londoners, whilst reducing incentives for landlords to maintain and improve their properties.

Rent controls should be introduced in a stepped way to minimise risks for tenants. And we need more information on landlords, rents, and their business models in order to design a rent control which avoids unintended consequences.

Rent controls are also not a silver bullet. They need to be part of a package of solutions to London’s housing affordability crisis, including a large scale increase in social housebuilding and an improvement in housing benefit. However, private renting will be part of London’s housing system for some time to come, and the scale of the affordability crisis in London means that the question of rent controls is no longer “if”, but increasingly “how”. 

Joe Beswick is head of housing & land at the New Economics Foundation.