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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Crossrail given go ahead by Parliament

Work on the largest civil engineering project in Europe to get underway

Crossrail, the largest addition to the transport network in London and the South East for more than 50 years has completed its Parliamentary process, with the Crossrail Bill receiving Royal Assent last night.

Following the Prime Minister's announcement last October that a £16bn funding package had been secured for the construction of Crossrail, Parliamentary approval of the Bill means that the project is on track to be operational for passengers in 2017. It will mean more capacity and faster journeys for passengers, as well as a £20bn boost to the wider UK economy.

The line will run from Maidenhead and Heathrow in the west through tunnels under central London - with new stations at Paddington, Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road, Farringdon, Liverpool Street, Whitechapel, Isle of Dogs (Canary Wharf) - then out to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east.

The Crossrail Act grants powers to acquire land and for Crossrail to be built and maintained. Enabling works will take place next year, with main construction works set to begin in 2010.

Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly said:

"This landmark project is of major significance to both London and the whole country. It will generate jobs and economic growth, help re-vitalise some of our most deprived areas and deliver major improvements for the travelling public.

"Crossrail has been talked about for decades, so I am delighted that now we have secured both the funding package and parliamentary approval work can finally begin to deliver this fantastic project."

Mayor of London, Boris Johnson said:

"I am absolutely thrilled that work can now begin on one of the largest projects ever seen in the capital, a project that is vital to the future prosperity of our city and a project that has the potential to improve the lives of many thousands of Londoners.

"Crossrail will shorten journey times for Londoners and visitors to our city whether they are heading for the bright lights of the west end or the citadels of commerce at Canary Wharf. But most importantly it can act as a catalyst for regeneration across the whole of our city, particularly in the east of the capital.

"Londoners living in the east will have far greater access to jobs in the centre of London and we expect to see the areas where they are living flourish from private sector investment in housing and development. All this and Crossrail even pays for itself. That is what I call a cracking deal for the capital."

Douglas Oakervee, Executive Chairman of Cross London Rail Links said

"Royal Assent is the most significant milestone in the history of Crossrail. After years of planning and discussion, we are ready to move into the delivery phase of a project that will benefit London, the south east region and the UK as a whole.

"Up to 14,000 people will be employed in the construction, and training schemes are planned to help equip Londoners along the route with the skills to secure these jobs. This will be a project for the whole community - a new world class affordable railway that London expects and deserves."

London's Transport Commissioner Peter Hendy said:

"The importance of Crossrail to London's economy and transport network cannot be overstated. Along with the vital upgrade of the Tube, it will provide much needed additional transport capacity to keep London moving.

"When complete, it will carry twice as many passengers as the Jubilee line, increasing London's public transport network capacity by 10%. Our priority now is to ensure delivery of this project, on time and on budget."

Iain Coucher, Chief Executive, Network Rail said:

"We have a thriving and punctual railway and the key challenge now is providing more capacity for passengers. Crossrail, along with projects such as Thameslink will provide a huge boost to public transport across the capital and beyond, linking some of the UK's busiest transport hubs and adding a vast array of new journey opportunities to commuters, business and leisure travellers.

"Network Rail will play a vital role in preparing the existing rail network to accommodate a vast increase in traffic and providing upgrades to passenger facilities that encourage people to use the railway."

Baroness Jo Valentine, Chief Executive of London First said:

"Today's final parliamentary approval is great news for the capital's commuters and businesses. It signals Government intent to get moving on delivering on this crucial project. But, more than that, it signals a world city investing in its future competitiveness."

Stuart Fraser, Chairman of the Policy and Resources Committee, City of London Corporation said:

"Financial services in the UK - and billions of pounds in taxes - depend on London having an integrated transport system linking the capital to the rest of the country and the world. We have always backed Crossrail, even in the 1990s when no-one else did, and now we want to see it, delivered, as part of a chain of infrastructure that includes an efficient Tube and rail networks and airports (especially Heathrow) that are fit for the 21st century. Crossrail is vital but delivering it should not become an excuse for cut-backs in other areas."

When complete, there will be 24 trains per hour in each direction through Central London during peak times. This will provide substantial new passenger capacity and crowding relief, particularly on the Central and Piccadilly lines.

The service will be delivered by a new and dedicated fleet of approximately 600 air conditioned carriages. They will be greener, lighter, quicker, able to carry a greater number of passengers and more reliable than existing designs. Stations along the route will be accessible.

Royal Assent is the most significant milestone in the history of Crossrail and the time when Cross London Rail Links Limited changes from a planning and promotional organisation to the Delivery Agent for this exciting new railway. As part of this transformation four new independent non-executive directors - Michael Cassidy CBE, Patrick Crawford, Sir Joe Dwyer and Heather Rabbatts, CBE - have been appointed.

The Executive Chairman Douglas Oakervee, who has successfully led the company over the past three years, will continue in that role until the appointment of a CEO and non-Executive Chairperson in accordance with best corporate governance practice. An open and competitive selection process will commence shortly to bring about this change. It is expected that Mr Oakervee's experience and knowledge will continue to be closely associated with Crossrail through the challenging and exciting times ahead.


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