Ken Livingstone has welcomed the Government’s go-ahead for major east-west rail link Crossrail. Speaking after Alistair Darling’s statement on the Government’s five year transport plan and transport Spending Review, the Mayor said:
“Alistair Darling’s announcement of a Hybrid Bill to build Crossrail opens the possibility of London’s most important transport development for 40 years. Crossrail will give London the backbone of a 21st century transport system, underpinning hundreds of thousands of jobs in London’s financial district and sustaining London’s position as the world’s leading international financial centre.
“Crossrail’s interchange with the re-built and extended East London Line, also given the go-ahead today, will give easy transport access from London’s most deprived areas to its most dynamic business district. This is not just a transport scheme but an economic strategy for London.
“There are tough negotiations ahead before Crossrail can be built, above all on funding, but the Government is to be congratulated in the strongest terms for having the courage to take this vital step for London.”
Mr Livingstone also confirmed that he has reached an agreement with the Government that will allow TfL to proceed with constructing the East London Line extension. The Mayor said the agreement, which will enable TfL to go ahead with the East London Line extension, transit schemes in East London and Greenwich and extensions to the DLR and its services were a major boost to London’s 2012 Olympic bid.
However, the Mayor warned that the great majority of the extra funding announced in the transport Spending Review would be going to Network Rail to deal with the disastrous consequences of rail privatisation.
As a result TfL had not secured the extra revenue resources that its successful track record merited and would face some difficult decisions in finalising its business plan. Mr Livingstone described the move as “excellent news” but cautioned that “today’s announcement also shows just how much rail privatisation is still costing us all. The legacy of rail privatisation is swallowing up resources that should ideally have been available to invest in and build on our proven successes. That has denied TfL the resources it needs to proceed with its full plans for making more improvements to transport in London. As a result, we will face some difficult decisions in finalising the TfL Business Plan.”