The private-sector pledge answers one key criticism of the project, that taxpayers would have to fund a mode of transport designed largely to fatten the City’s already bulging pockets. But plenty of other niggles remain: that Crossrail won’t actually solve the problems of congestion in London, which lie elsewhere; that it doesn’t connect with major hubs such as Heathrow Terminal 5 or the new international rail terminal at St Pancras; and that the continued and disproportionate investment in costly projects in London, the Olympics as well as Crossrail, does nothing to help business in other parts of the country. The north, for example, is miffed that its proposal for better links, between its cities or with London, would benefit both London and themselves and cost a lot less.
That said, someone clearly wants the project out of the siding. Much has been made of the government’s tough approach to get the City on board, but the fact that the institutions are willing to cough up the dough shows just how desperately the City feels it needs Crossrail. Either that or they can’t face the idea that talks will carry on for another 20 years.