Brown puts £16bn railway across London on track
By IAN DRURY
Last updated at 22:59 05 October 2007
The Prime Minister agreed to Crossrail after a financial package was thrashed out.
First mooted in the 1940s, the 73-mile link will run from Maidenhead in Berkshire through the City and Canary Wharf to Shenfield in Essex.
Work will start in 2010 and the first services should run in 2017 with 24 trains an hour planned.
Scroll down for more
There will be two 14-mile tunnels beneath Central London and spur lines to Heathrow Airport and South-East London.
It will be Britain's biggest infrastructure project since the £9.5billion Channel Tunnel was completed in 1994.
Announcing the go-ahead, Mr Brown said: "This is a great day for London, for Crossrail and the British economy."
Analysts predict it will create 30,000 jobs and inject £20billion a year into the economy as well as easing traffic congestion and overcrowding on the Tube and trains.
MPs from across the political divide and business and tourism leaders also welcomed the decision, declaring Crossrail was vital to maintain London's growth.
However, Mr Brown was accused of exploiting the project by making an announcement ahead of calling a possible general election.
The scheme could net Labour valuable votes in many marginal constituencies along the line.
Theresa Villiers, Tory transport spokesman, questioned why Mr Brown had "dithered" for ten years over committing money for the line.
"Every time an election seems imminent, the Government wheels out the promise of Crossrail," she said.
Susan Kramer, Liberal Democrat transport spokesman, added: "It is a shame it has taken the possibility of an election to make things happen."
Chancellor Alistair Darling will unveil full details of how Crossrail will be funded on Tuesday.
However, it is expected that the bill will be divided between the Government, the private sector and revenue from fares.
The project became a seriously considered proposal when Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister.
But it was shelved as too costly under John Major in 1994 until revived by New Labour.
But some transport chiefs warned that planned road, rail and tram schemes in other cities could be scuppered as Crossrail would swallow so much funding.
Several hurdles still need to be cleared, such as getting a Bill through Parliament.
Most watched News videos
- Obama and Trump sit down to discuss the transfer of power
- Emotional Chelsea Handler fights back tears over election results
- Two dogs brutally attack mother and child outside their home
- Three-month-old baby appears to say 'I love you' to mother
- Boy flies 5,000 miles home to see sick Mum in hospital
- The 2016 John Lewis Christmas ad campaign is finally here!
- Trump slams Obama and Iran over mysterious money transfer tape
- Army veteran confronts suspected remembrance poppy conman
- Teen attacked for voicing support for Trump online
- Seth Meyers gets emotional talking about mom's disappointment
- Incredible behind the scenes look at Planet Earth's snake attack
- Is this the creepy moment the corpse of a girl OPENS her eyes?