LondonNet News Headlines
|Crossrail Gets Green Light|
- Government okay for east-west link with private money
CROSSRAIL, the long-awaited train link between Heathrow in west London and Stratford in the east, has finally been given the thumbs up by the government.
"There is a clear case for Crossrail and we are committed to the scheme," said Transport Secretary Alistair Darling. "Crossrail is very important. We believe that it is essential for London's future expansion."
There has been high-level talk of Crossrail for decades but each time it has appeared to come close to fruition, successive governments have fought shy of the estimated, in today's figures, UKP10 billion cost.
To get round that hefty financial obstacle, Darling plans to raise most of the money needed for the scheme from the private sector. "Previous proposals for Crossrail have failed due to flawed planning," Darling said. "In order to give the project the best chance of success, I am assembling an expert team to assess the proposal to ensure it offers good value for London."
It is thought Darling hopes to raise about three-quarters of the project's cost from private sources. The major problem with the government's insistence on a long and detailed financial planning process is that work on Crossrail will be delayed until after a Parliamentary Bill can be prepared in 2004. Experts say that won't give enough time to have Crossrail ready for 2012, the year in which London hopes to host the Olympic Games.