Crossrail hails decision to finish the link

CROSSRAIL hailed the decision by new Lib-Con transport secretary Philip Hammond not to scrap the £16bn east-west rail link across the capital yesterday.

Terry Morgan, chairman of Crossrail, said: “This is welcome news. To get such early and firm support from the government means the project can go forward with confidence.”

Morgan added: “This construction project will mean a lot of jobs in London and the southeast and a boost for the wider UK economy as a whole.”

For a year in the run up to this month’s general election the Conservative party said Crossrail – the biggest infrastructure project in Europe – might be ditched as it prepared to slash the UK’s £163bn record budget deficit.

But yesterday Philip Hammond said: “I think funding for Crossrail is already well established. We are making sure that in delivering the project we absolutely optimise value for money.”

The go-ahead from Hammond came after months of lobbying the Tories by Crossrail, Mayor of London Boris Johnson and Transport for London.

Crossrail began major construction work at Tottenham Court Road station and at other key points around the capital last year. The project has already spent £2.5bn, and is committed to another £1.5bn of work.

Crossrail’s Morgan said the next major milestone for the project will come later this year when it will release a £2bn tender to dig five tunnels under the city.

Crossrail is a new 73-mile rail line that will carry 24 trains an hour during rush hour in 10 200-metre long carriages.

Passengers will be able to travel from the Docklands to Heathrow in 44 minutes.

The transport secretary also promised to go easy on motorists yesterday, pledging to end taxpayer funding for controversial speed-cameras, to look again at road charging earmarked for some existing roads, and to crack down on “cowboy” clamping and parking companies.