Crossrail gets green light

Europe’s largest civil engineering project is to set begin in 2010, after Gordon Brown today approved a £16bn funding deal for Crossrail.

Crossrail will run east to west across southern England, linking Maidenhead and Heathrow in the west with Shenfield and Abbey wood in the east via key City and Docklands stations.

The total length of Crossrail will be 118.5km, including 41.5km of tunnels. It will serve a total of 38 stations with 24 trains an hour running through the central section in each direction at peak times.

It will bring an additional one and a half million people to within 60 minutes of London’s key business areas and is expected to carry 200 million passengers a year when it comes into operation in 2017. The government estimates it will help add at least £20 billion to the UK’s economy.

Crossrail is to be funded by the government and the businesses that are set to directly benefit from the link. The parliamentary bill to secure the necessary powers to begin construction of the link is expected to get royal assent next summer.

The Prime Minister said: ‘I believe this is a project of enormous importance not just for London but for the whole country. By generating an additional 30,000 jobs and helping London retain its position as the world’s pre-eminent financial centre, it will support Britain’s economic growth and maintain Britain’s position as a leading world economy. And by delivering quicker journeys from some of the most economically disadvantaged parts of the city to the most economically important, it will support regeneration particularly in the most deprived parts of our country.’

Transport Secretary, Ruth Kelly said: ‘Incredible work has gone into securing a Crossrail funding deal that has eluded all previous governments. Today’s announcement paves the way for a rail link that will give a lasting transport legacy to London for centuries to come.’