Prime Minister Gordon Brown has given the go-ahead to the £16bn Crossrail scheme which will see a new rail line built through the centre of London.
Construction is expected to begin in 2010 with train services due to start running in 2017. Mr Brown said the project was of “enormous importance, not just for London but for the whole country”.
The announcement was welcomed by Mayor of London Ken Livingstone who described the project as “the key to the next 20 years of economic development of London.”
“Crossrail will provide the transport underpinning for the greatest centres of London’s business – the City, Canary Wharf and the West End – as well as linking these areas of high jobs growth to the areas of greatest deprivation in east London and opening up the areas of new housing development in the Thames Gateway.”
In a statement issued this morning Mr Livingstone said the scheme”like all good ideas, is simple. It gives the financial centres of London, the City and Canary Wharf, a single transport platform, links this to Heathrow, provides massive new transport capacity in the West End, and opens up the connection to the areas of housing development in the Thames Gateway. It passes through most of the areas of highest job growth in London. The station at Whitechapel provides a junction to the East London Line – which passes through the areas of London’s greatest deprivation.”
“With a capacity twice that of the Jubilee line, and expanding London’s rail capacity by 10 per cent, it is the largest addition to London’s transport system for more than fifty years. It will touch the lives of millions of Londoners whether they are travelling to work, going to the West End to shop or for the evening out, travelling to Heathrow or living in East London – and by providing the transport backbone of the internationally competitive businesses of London it will aid the whole UK economy.”
“It is a tremendous, £16 billion, internationally recognisable vote of confidence by businesses and government in London’s economic success.”
“In the seven years since I have been Mayor delivering Crossrail has been by far the most important transport project I have sought to deliver, working together with London’s businesses and the government, and I regard today’s statement as a tremendous combined achievement of all those who have worked for it and one of the most important announcements London could have.”
Conservative Mayoral candidate Boris Johnson said he was “delighted to hear that Crossrail will finally be going ahead.
“My team will be looking closely at the arrangements to ensure the best possible deal for London.
“This is good news for the Capital and I wish all involved every success in getting this long-awaited vital project started.”
A Labour Party Spokesperson said: “Crossrail is the most important transport project for London. Ken Livingstone’s administration have worked hard over a number of years to deliver this for London.”
“In contrast Boris Johnson could not even be bothered to turn up and vote for it in parliament, which shows how seriously he takes Londoners.”