MPs and council leaders have called for a £25m funding injection to extend the delayed Elizabeth Line to Ebbsfleet.
A cross-party group of MPs, including former defence secretary Michael Fallon, Labour MP Teresa Pearce and Tory MP David Evennett, submitted their Budget submission to rail minister Jo Johnson this morning, in which they asked for the funding injection before the end of the year.
MPs believe that the extension into Kent, which was included in the original design but removed in 2008, should be restored following the economic rebuilding from the financial crash.
Businesses such as the Thames Estuary Commission, London City Airport, the London Chamber of Commerce and HS1 – otherwise known as the Channel Tunnel – have all backed the extension.
Evennett said: “This is a crucial opportunity for the government to create a boom of new jobs, opportunities and homes in an area that needs investment to unlock its full potential.
"We came together today and presented our submission to the Treasury and DfT in person, because we wanted to demonstrate how passionate, determined and united our strength of feeling is in favour of this investment. We must commit to this vital extension, which will join up our transport network and bring Kent and south east London properly into the fold.”
The MPs say the extension will provide support to "overlooked" areas such as Gravesham and Dartford by providing a fast connection to Canary Wharf and the centre of London. The extension will also connect the Elizabeth Line to the Channel Tunnel at Ebbsfleet.
In August Crossrail announced that the £15.4bn project would be delayed until Autumn 2019 owing to delays in signalling testing.
The delay sparked a row after the London Assembly's transport committee accused the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, of "misleading" the public over what he knew about the delay.
In a letter to Khan – who said he was only informed of the delay two days before it was announced on 31 August – the committee wrote: “We accept the assurances you have personally given to the Assembly that you did not know the specific details of the delay until two days before the announcement.
“However, given the evidence we have received we feel it is highly likely that you were informed on or soon after 19 July that there was very likely to be a delay. It may have been justified to wait for clearer information before a public announcement. However, it is arguable that maintaining that you were completely misinformed is misleading.
“If in fact you were uninformed, we can only assume this was to allow you – and ministers – a degree of ‘plausible deniability’ about the inevitable delay in the launch date. This is completely inappropriate and damages the reputations of all involved.”