By contrast, New York’s second avenue subway will easily exceed Crossrail’s $22 billion cost, if it’s ever finished. For that price New Yorkers will get just 8.5 miles of downtown tunnels (versus Crossrail’s 13). And they won’t get the additional dozen or so miles of new above ground commuter railroad that Crossrail has managed to build for that price. Moreover, Crossrail started somewhat later (2009 versus 2007), but will be done by 2020, while New York will take until 2027-29 just to finish the first two phases totaling 3.5 miles. The remaining 5 miles may never be completed at this rate.
EDIT: As 'pcwalton correctly pointed out, about 2/3 of Crossrail's suburban rail was pre-existing, so my per-mile cost for Crossrail was too low. It's difficult to calculate the per-mile cost of new Crossrail track, because part of the $22 billion budget involves upgrades to the 45-miles or so of existing track and stations. But even assuming all that cost nothing, it's about $850 million per mile to build the new segments through downtown London. The Maryland Purple Line, by contrast, is $350 million per mile to build light rail on existing city streets through suburban Maryland. And the DC Silver Line is about $300 million per mile to build heavy rail on existing, reserved freeway medians through suburban and exurban Virginia.
This blog post  has a better comparison. By this measure, Crossrail is less expensive per kilometer than the new subways in New York City, which are abnormally pricey, but significantly less expensive than the SF Central Subway for example.
Note that your link counts the non-tunnel sections as zero cost, which isn’t correct either. There is a significant amount of new above-ground track. Also, the project involved major upgrades to the pre-existing track and stations, which can be enormously expensive: http://www.crossrail.co.uk/route/eastern-section
On the eastern section, 43 miles of track was upgraded, 27 stations were "redeveloped" and 20 bridges were "renewed." These efforts were undoubtedly cheaper than building all-new track, but could cost billions on their own. So the real per-mile cost is somewhere in-between the $300 million and $850 million figures.
Well, that depends.
Part of the justification for building HS2 (a high-speed railway from London to Birmingham, Manchester, etc) is that building a new line is much cheaper than upgrading the existing line (again).
Making changes to a railway that's being used is expensive: time is used preparing and restoring the area to be worked on, labour at night or weekends is more expensive, and it's much more important that the work is right the first time, so trains can resume on schedule.
To do it piece by piece would take either unfathomable amounts of money or several decades of piecework.
Meanwhile in North England...
Nope, not much to report.
We still have converted buses running on tracks, lack of electrification, extremely short trains/platforms, and train companies often on the verge of going bust (perhaps because everyone drives).
Hey, we may* get rid of the pacers this year!
Also, they sucessfully managed to dodge upgrading the transpenine route for the 3rd? 4th? time since it's last upgrade in the 80s. That's a win.... for something.
They've been saying that since I was there several years ago.
They'll out live all of us.
Training is their current excuse for the delay: "“They are in Yorkshire for one simple reason – that is that our train crew here can drive them now, can operate them now. If we introduced them elsewhere where they don’t operate them now, we would introduce a training need that could not be coped with."
If anything the anomaly is that we aren't expected to retrain on the roads. I am old enough to be "grandfathered" into the UK's old regime where a single pass, as a teenager, in a small hatchback, qualifies me for like 50 years to drive a 5 tonne truck even with a trailer. I've never driven anything with a trailer, no evidence I'd be safe doing it but hey, the rules used to be lax so...
It's like saying a product in a supermarket is delayed "because it needs to be put on the shelf"
Edit: OK, the rather few people I know from the North are not representative.
We almost entirely blame Westminster, all parties, and their London exceptionalism. Some will still single out Mrs T.
I think it's reached triple the transport spending per head in London compared to elsewhere. Then there's the subsidy of buses Thatcher permitted to continue in London, but nowhere else. So the regions pay double or more what London does on bus routes. West Coast main line electrification was put off for I guess 50 years! The cross Pennine route is a sick joke, still running those awful bus on rails trains. Those were supposed to be a 4-5 year, super-cheap fill in. Ooh 30 or 40 years ago.
Crossrail? Sure, give it a blank cheque and immediately talk about crossrail 2.
Andy Burnham has had a fairly remarkable transition from Westminster Minister after becoming mayor of Manchester. There's been a few enlightening media pieces about him and public transport. Course now he vocally realises where the problem is, he's no longer an MP...
Pacers are an amazing innovation that are best appreciated in the appropriate context: videos from Geoff Marshall making fun of them. They're completely useless outside of that and should be binned immediately.
This opens the can of worms of how ridiculously unrepresentative and centralised our system has become. Particularly under FPTP with an electorate that increasingly votes for a multi-party system.
You can judge how interested they are by their manifestos. They’re targeted towards their existing voters and rarely make any promises for infrastructure in the North.
The text is on Gutenberg. It's too repetitive for a full read, but worth a scan to get the flavour.
"It's estimated that there's about 17,000 tonnes of bombs that were dropped on London in WWII and the rule of thumb is about 10% failed to explode,"
[I guess UXO must be an even bigger problem for German cities].
Apart from the 13 miles of tunnel in the middle, pretty much the entire above-ground train line existed already, so it's not a fair comparison -- the need for real estate purchases for Crossrail was comparatively very small.
That said, it's not really a surprise that construction costs are cheaper in the UK. Mean wages are 40% higher in the US overall. That the major New York construction firms are deeply integrated with organized crime doesn't help, of course.
You're absolutely right about how significant a change a project like this is in terms of towns, communities and lives.
I also walk along the Jubilee Greenway in East London quite a lot, and much of that is built on top of the old above-ground sewer pipes that lead down to the old Bazalgette sewage pumping station in Abbey Mills. Hopefully once those pipes are decommissioned the Jubilee Greenway should be much nicer to walk along!
Income tax payers are already at breaking point - especially those who don't own land.
Don't expect many more "rob from the poor to give to the rich" schemes until tax is reformed.
The UK could desperately do with some land taxation, but it's hardly reasonable to say that "income tax payers are at breaking point". It's the people on low incomes that are closer to breaking.
Besides, since Brexit, nobody cares about the deficit or credit rating. We can just debt-fund everything!
Because workers can now use Crossrail to live farther from the city centre (along Crossrail route), thus reducing the price of other houses in the city (which are not along Crossrail route).
Honestly, I think Crossrail is one of the most efficient spends of tax, beneficial for both poor and rich people.
Also note that the UK has progressive taxation, so it was actually rich people who paid for Crossrail.
You're using the definition of rich that is "high paid"
I uses the definition of rich that is "high wealth"
My objection to that statement is that rich people also pay taxes.
To pay a £1500pcm rent on a modest house in outer London while commuting to work, I would have to earn about £60k more than someone who owns it outright and lives off dividends with the same disposable income, and therefore I’d be paying £25k more in taxes.
On top of that the owner would see their wealth increasing at a further £50k a year, which would require even more income to match.
In the UK income is taxed at 30-75% (including NI, income tax, student loans, and child tax). Capital gains is 18%-28%.
Most urban transit systems are publicly subsidized in order to keep down the cost to riders, which is of most benefit to the less well-off. Even people who do not live or travel in a big city benefit from the economic activity and revenue they generate. Public transport, if implemented reasonably efficiently, can justifiably be called an investment.
Buy a house for £300k with a 270k mortgage, pay £5k stamp. Crossrail increases it to £600k. Sell the house, repay mortgage, buy new house elsewhere for £300k, pay £5k stamp, and you've suddenly changed your £35k into £325k.
1) Crossrail cost billions
2) Income tax payers in the UK had to pay for that
3) Income tax payers have had enough and don't want to pay for infrastructure that benefits others
Those who benefitted the most? The land owners in London who have made billions
If the price increases -- the portion solely due to crossrail -- was taxed at 42% like income, then there would be far more money available for useful projects (like crossrail)
Therefore the OPs hope ("I hope we see a lot more of these large scale projects") would be answered
That said I can see the argument for a property improvement tax but it would be messy to figure out - London projects effect huge swathes of property in differing ways.
Secondary benefits will also fall on riders of other lines and street transportation that become less congested by riders diverted to the new Crossrail route.
Had enough? What does that mean exactly?
The people who will benefit from crossrail the most are the main income tax payers who go to work every day on the tube. Salaries in London are 2-3x higher than outside and income tax gets disproportionately higher the more you earn.
Can you imagine if the tube was never built because it would benefit rich landowners in London more than other people?
That no longer happens.
Not 42%, but most properties will attract capital gains tax when sold.
This would be a good read for someone non-technical to better understand similar software engineering challenges because a rail station and the delays described are far easier for a layperson to relate to.