London's biggest project, Crossrail, is a new railway tunnel between Paddington & Whitechapel, enabling suburban trains to travel from Heathrow & Maidenhead to Canary Wharf, Shenfield & Abbey Wood.
Crossrail is currently going through the parliamentary approval process. It was deposited in the House of Commons as a "hybrid bill" (legislation which affects both public and private interests) - the Crossrail Bill - on 17 Feb 2005. The Bill and its associated Environmental Statement and other supporting documents runs to some 17,000 pages.
It is currently at the second petitioning stage, in the House of Lords. People and organisations affected by the Bill can have their concerns heard by a Select Committee - a cross-party group of peers generally unbiased by the proposal who can ask for appropriate amendments to the Bill to be made to lessen its impact on the public. Approximately 100 representations are expected, and Royal Assent is currently projected at the end of July 2008.
The company running the project, Cross London Rail Links Ltd (CLRL), was reorganised following the government's decision to abolish the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) - originally co-owner of the company with Transport for London (TfL). The members of the company from the SRA have been replaced with members from the DfT.
A branch to Kingston was being considered as part of the project, but was dropped following an unfavourable analysis in the Montague Report. The branch would have reduced the possible frequency through the central tunnel (due to the probable impact of delays on the extra branch) and faced local opposition at Richmond.
Additionally, the initially-proposed south-eastern branch to Ebbsfleet was dropped in favour of a shorter branch terminating at Abbey Wood. Hounslow Council also proposed a new western branch to Brentford and Hounslow which has not been included in the project.
Costs & funding
The £16bn cost of Crossrail is to be funded from a combination of sources. A substantial portion of the cost will come from central government, with another portion coming from the Mayor. The remainder is comprised of both a levy on business taxes, and a collection of lump-sum contributions from key beneficiaries - including £800m from Canary Wharf Group, £200m from BAA (the operators of Heathrow Airport) and £250m from the City of London Corporation.
A scheme like Crossrail was first proposed just after the Second World War, but the current Crossrail scheme has been in progress since the late 1980s. Originally the proposal involved a line from Aylesbury and Reading via Paddington and Liverpool Street to Shenfield in Essex, and the alignment between Paddington and Liverpool St was safeguarded to reflect the fact. Some 15 years later, the core tunnel remains the same; however, the branches have changed to reflect modern developments.
The core of the Crossrail scheme is the tunnel connecting the line into Paddington in the west to the lines out of Liverpool St in the east. Stations are proposed at Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road, and Farringdon.
The current scheme being taken forward through parliament has two branches at each end.
In the west, contrary to previous plans, Crossrail will stop at all stations on the GWML out to Heathrow. These include Acton Main Line, Ealing Broadway (which would receive a major overhaul), West Ealing, Hanwell, Southall and Hayes & Harlington.
The Heathrow section would take over timetable paths from Heathrow Connect, with two additional services per hour - leading to four Crossrail trains per hour to Heathrow (in addition to the 4tph Heathrow Express service).
This means that Crossrail would only run to Heathrow Central and Terminal 4 - not to Terminal 5. Passengers would be able to transfer at Heathrow Central to the Heathrow Express for free connections to T5.
Originally, Crossrail was to take over Heathrow Express services, giving a higher frequency to Heathrow; but BAA opposed this, seeing the faster journey time of HEx as important in achieving modal shift to public transport for some journeys to the airport which might otherwise be made on private transport. If Crossrail's slower services completely replaced HEx, BAA believed that modal shift would drop a few percentage points.
A 4tph service onwards from Hayes & Harlington to Maidenhead would use the Great Western Relief Lines which currently offer "slow" services towards Reading. Trains would stop at all stations - West Drayton, Iver, Langley, Slough, Burnham, Taplow and Maidenhead. All of these stations would require platform extensions.
2tph would start at West Drayton as there would be a depot there on the former coal yard. Trains would also be stabled at Maidenhead's former goods yard and within the current Old Oak Common depot.
The whole line from Airport Junction (where the tunnel to Heathrow leaves the mainline) and Maidenhead would be electrified using overhead wiring.
To provide the required capacity, Crossrail would be given exclusive use of the Great Western "Relief" tracks, which run between Paddington and Reading. Since Crossrail would stop at Maidenhead, the remaining stations (Reading and Twyford) would be served by a semi-fast service. Same-platform interchange would be offered between this service and Crossrail at Ealing Broadway, where a Crossrail service will always follow a semi-fast service. [Response to Crossrail Bill Select Committee, 11 October 2006]
The Greenford - Paddington half-hourly branch line service would be cut back to West Ealing to avoid conflicts with Crossrail services; however, to compensate for this, the frequency will be doubled to every 15 minutes with connections to Crossrail trains at West Ealing.
Parliament are also now considering an onward extension of the Maidenhead branch to Reading, although this is more complicated since it would require a large resignalling project at Reading station.
Crossrail's station at Paddington will be constructed underneath Eastbourne Terrace, with remodelling of the street above.
Services to/from Shenfield (and a small number of services from Abbey Wood) will terminate at Paddington. This is because the demand and capacity east of Paddington is higher than that to the west. 14tph would terminate at Paddington under current plans.
Terminating trains at a busy station is difficult on London Underground (e.g. Central Line at Liverpool St) as safety law requires that the train is checked to make sure that all passengers have gotten off before moving off into the sidings, after a fatality some years ago at Liverpool St.
However, Crossrail has permission to carry any passengers remaining on board at Paddington to its reversing siding on the surface at Westbourne Park. They can be taken off the train there or remain on board as the train returns to Paddington. This will aid the reliability and frequency of the service.
Movements to and from the reversing sidings at Westbourne Park will not conflict with the running lines.
The western tunnel portal would be located at Royal Oak.
Central: Core Paddington - Whitechapel tunnel
The core tunnels use a route which has been safeguarded between Paddington and Liverpool St for years. The tunnels run from Eastbourne Terrace to Hyde Park's northern side (passing underneath the Central line) and then run a short distance south of and parallel to Oxford St to its Bond Street and Tottenham Court Road stations.
The tunnels pass underneath the Central line again between Tottenham Court Road and Holborn stations, a shaft being dug at the latter. The tunnels then head straight for Farringdon station, then following the Circle line alignment to Liverpool Street, after which they head straight to Whitechapel.
After Whitechapel, the core tunnels follow Mile End Road and Stepney Green, where they diverge underneath King John Street in Stepney.
More information about the stations themselves is below.
In the east, the original route to Shenfield is retained, although the portal is further east so the core tunnels can include Whitechapel.
The tunnels head east from the Stepney junction to the Mile End Stadium, where they then head northeast underneath the c2c Fenchurch Street line as far as Bow. The tunnels then head straight to Pudding Mill Lane, where the northeastern portal is located directly adjacent to Pudding Mill Lane DLR station.
Crossrail then serves Stratford and stations on the Great Eastern line to Shenfield, taking over from local "One" stopping services to Liverpool St.
The current peak service has 16tph, but Crossrail will deliver 12tph to each eastern branch (otherwise costs will be too high for the benefits gained on the Abbey Wood branch). Therefore an additional 6tph will be provided by Great Eastern between Gidea Park and Liverpool St, increasing frequency on this section to 18tph and with a capacity increase of 40% (to 168 carriages = 10-car x 12tph Crossrail + 8-car x 6tph Great Eastern).
Maryland station is the only stop which cannot receive platform extensions, so although Crossrail services will call there, selective door opening will be used, meaning that passengers for Maryland will have to use particular carriages.
East: Abbey Wood
In the southeast, the branch tunnel leaves Stepney Junction to the southeast for Limehouse Basin, where there is a short easterly segment and a shaft. It then heads southeast again, passing underneath the eastern exit to the Limehouse Link Tunnel and the Cannon Workshops to its Isle of Dogs station underneath the West India Docks' north section.
The route then heads to the Royal Docks for a station at Custom House which would take over the North London Line station*. The tunnel surfaces not far to the west of Custom House station, a few metres east of Bridgeland Road.
* (This little-used section of the North London Line, set to be made further obsolete by the new DLR City Airport extension, would be taken over for the purposes of Crossrail, with the appropriate portals constructed west of Custom House and at North Woolwich; note that Custom House NLL would have closed a few years previously, due to the DLR Stratford International extension).
Provision is being made in the plans for a future station at Silvertown, should this ever be required. This would not be on the current station site, but instead would be further to the west. A DLR City Airport branch station has been safeguarded very close to here to provide possible interchange.
A river tunnel would then be constructed to Abbey Wood, where Crossrail would terminate. The Royal Docks portal would be on the current NLL alignment, just to the east of Winifred Street. The eastern portal to the tunnel would be next to Plumstead Goods Yard.
A new cross-platform interchange would be constructed at Abbey Wood between Crossrail services and South Eastern Trains services to Dartford. The decision to terminate at Abbey Wood was made to prevent delays on the South Eastern network affecting Crossrail services - a problem known as performance pollution. Current plans would see Crossrail get its own, independent tracks from the Plumstead tunnel portal to Abbey Wood.
In the peaks, 12tph from Crossrail would start/terminate at Abbey Wood.
Axed & potential future components
West branch: Kingston via Turnham Green
The now-axed Kingston branch would have used a separate tunnel via Turnham Green to Gunnersbury, replacing District Line services to Richmond. It would have continued to Kingston, involving a new tunneled junction at Richmond. * (see Controversy)
Although the initial proposal to serve Woolwich Arsenal was ruled out, the parliamentary Select Committee considering the Crossrail Bill asked that the station to be added to the Bill. They state:
However, Crossrail responded that the cost of such a station (which would require Crossrail tunnels to be shallower than currently planned at this location) would be approximately £200m. They believed that adding this cost to an already-costly project would make it less deliverable, and so rejected the Committee's decision. [Response to Crossrail Bill Select Committee, 11 October 2006]
The Committee's response was to temporarily suspend their petition hearings in protest at this apparently unprecedented action. [Select Committee on the Crossrail Bill, 30 October 2006] However, CLRL agreed to consider the Woolwich station proposal carefully in an attempt to reduce its cost and impact on the overall project.
If a Crossrail station were built at Woolwich, it would be underneath the Royal Arsenal site, just to the north of Plumstead Road, and therefore some distance from Woolwich Arsenal station itself.
South-east branch: Ebbsfleet
Previous plans would have seen 4tph run on to the Channel Tunnel Rail Link Dartford International station at Ebbsfleet. This may still be considered in the future, if performance problems due to the interface with South Eastern could be resolved. The onwards route from Abbey Wood to Ebbsfleet is legally safeguarded in the Crossrail Bill.
Importantly, all central underground stations (Paddington - Liverpool St) have exits at each end of the platforms since they are very large compared to tube stations (245m platforms); the double exit (like at City Thameslink) also allows a larger area to be served.
Therefore there is no station at Oxford Circus, for example, because the eastern exit from Bond St Crossrail will be in nearby Hanover Square. Unfortunately, a link will not be provided between Hanover Square and Oxford Circus station for interchange, as Oxford Circus does not have the capacity to deal with the extra interchange traffic - interchange tunnels would empty out onto the southern end of the Oxford Circus platforms which can get very crowded, so there is a safety issue.
Tottenham Court Road Crossrail will have an exit at the western end in Dean Street as well as an eastern exit as part of a completely reconstructed ticket hall for the Tube station. This eastern ticket hall will be constructed underneath Charing Cross Road and the Centrepoint Plaza (where the fountain area currently stands); the plaza and junction (St Giles' Circus) will be remodelled to provide new space for pedestrian circulation and bus interchange. The Astoria and adjacent buildings will have to be demolished in order to build the station and provide a new entrance; a replacement development would be provided on top of this entrance.
Farringdon Crossrail will run beneath the subsurface Underground lines between Farringdon and Barbican stations. There will be an exit at each station, with new ticket halls being provided at each; the new Farringdon ticket hall will be quite large, providing a new entrance to the Underground and Thameslink station, and will be associated with the pedestrianisation of Cowcross Street.
Liverpool Street Crossrail will have entrances at Liverpool Street Underground and Moorgate Underground stations. The Moorgate ticket hall has already been excavated as part of the Moorhouse office development (Moorhouse) at 89-134 Moorgate; the eastern entrance will be from the existing London Underground ticket hall underneath Liverpool Street itself.
All underground stations will have platform-edge doors as on the Jubilee Line extension stations between Westminster and North Greenwich inclusive.
Some suburban stations will receive extensive improvements - these are Ealing Broadway, Romford, Abbey Wood and Custom House.
The station named Isle of Dogs will be accessed via a new island in the eastern section of the North Dock (east of West India Quay station, outside Billingsgate Fish Market). A footbridge will link the island to both sides of the dock. Interchange with the DLR would be on-street via either of three very nearby stations - West India Quay in particular, but also Poplar and Canary Wharf.
70 ten-car electric trains would be used for Crossrail services. They would have a top speed of 100mph/160kmh (reaching this on the outer open-air sections of the route).
The ten-car trains will be composed of two 5-car units; after 9pm in the evening and all day at weekends, 5-car units will run on Crossrail instead of the usual 10 cars.
An additional two cars can be added to Crossrail trains once demand increases, as platforms are being built to a 245m 12-car length.
Most peak trains would run Maidenhead/Heathrow/West Drayton - Abbey Wood and Paddington - Shenfield, although two of the 12 Abbey Wood trains would also only run as far as Paddington.
Staff & construction
1400 staff will be required to run Crossrail, with 1000 of these being transferred from existing railway operations.
Up to 15,000 workers will be required for construction.
Some residents and politicians of Richmond were upset that Crossrail would replace their District Line service. The District line serves many destinations that would not be served by Crossrail, such as Westminster and the more southerly parts of the West End and City.
There was also concern that the fast SWT service into Waterloo would have been degraded following opening of Crossrail.
Some properties were also affected in Richmond, where a grade-separated junction would have been required, requiring some compulsary purchases.
The branch to Kingston has now been dropped in favour of trains to Maidenhead following the recommendation by Adrian Montague in his report to government. This has been greeted favourably by Richmond residents but not so by Kingston.
Following the axing of the Richmond branch mentioned above, Hounslow Council lobbied central government for an alternative option. A large number of westbound Crossrail trains will be terminating at Paddington under current proposals, as demand from the Great Eastern corridor is much higher than from the Great Western. Hounslow Council want some of these trains (4tph) to be extended from Paddington to Hounslow, via Acton Central, South Acton, Brentford, Syon Lane, Isleworth and Hounslow.
The route proposed uses existing infrastructure, unlike the Richmond option which needed new tunnelling. It would share with 4tph on the North London Line between leaving the current alignment at Old Oak Common and just after South Acton, and would share with SWT's 4tph on the Hounslow Loop line.
It is known as "Corridor 7" as the failed Kingston proposal was "Corridor 6". The full proposal is on the Hounslow website [PDF, 4.8MB].
Superlink are promoting several alternatives to Crossrail. They believe that the Crossrail scheme, being based on the 1980s scheme, is no longer appropriate for this corridor.
The Superlink scheme involves longer-distance "regional" services from Reading, Northampton, Basingstoke and Guildford in the west, via Heathrow Airport and Paddington, following one of three proposed central routes to Canary Wharf, then running out to Cambridge, Stansted, Ipswich, Southend and Pitsea in the east.
The scheme is estimated to cost a total of £13.2bn, compared to Crossrail's £9.7bn. This is because the larger Superlink scheme involves much more extensive tunnelling and more infrastructure in general.
The base scheme follows the same central core as the current Crossrail scheme, but misses out Whitechapel by using a direct route between Liverpool St and Canary Wharf. It then tunnels to Newbury Park, where it requires new surface tracks to link into the West Anglia line at Harlow, and the Great Eastern line near Billericay. A branch from the tunnel would link into the Tilbury line at Barking. The next stops out from Canary Wharf would be Barking, Billericay, Ingatestone and Harlow (South).
In the west, a new tunnel under Kensal Green would be needed to connect to the line to Northampton (first stop at Harrow & Wealdstone). The route would take over slow services direct to Reading, and would also diverge to Heathrow and beyond to Reading via Bracknell, to Basingstoke and Guildford via Woking. This incorporates the Airtrack scheme.
In the centre, two routes have been proposed additionally to the current one.
The first "northern" route still calls at Bond St, but has an additional exit there to the northern end of the Bakerloo and Victoria platforms at Oxford Circus (the current Crossrail scheme cannot do this as it is on the southern side of Oxford St, and the southern end of those Underground platforms are currently too crowded).
It then runs north (not serving Tottenham Court Road) to a station with exits to Euston, King's Cross and St Pancras, to provide interchange at this complex of stations. It continues to Farringdon and Moorgate/Liverpool St as the current scheme does.
The second alternative was apparently floated by GB Railways (now acquired by First). It runs from Paddington underneath Hyde Park to Hyde Park Corner to provide interchange with the Piccadilly Line. It then continues underneath the Royal Parks to the river. Construction underneath the river bed is considered to be environmentally advantageous. There would be stations for Waterloo, Blackfriars and London Bridge, and then the tunnel would run to Canary Wharf.
Detailed information on Superlink's proposals is available on their website.
Crossrail has gained funding after the prime minister announced a package that now includes contributions by Canary Wharf Group, BAA and the City of London Corporation.
Utilities diversions around Tottenham Court Road station have begun in preparation for the upgrade of the station, which is part of the Crossrail Bill currently in Parliament.
The Mayor met the Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Transport to agree on the need for Crossrail and commit to finding funding for the scheme over the next few months.
The promoters of the Crossrail scheme, CLRL, have rejected the Transport Select Committee requirement for a station at Woolwich, stating that the additional cost (£200m) is too high and that it would place the scheme itself at risk.
Following discussions between the London Borough of Newham and Crossrail, it has been agreed that Crossrail services will call at Maryland station, using selective door opening, subject to safety approval. Previously, Crossrail trains were planned to skip Maryland station because its platforms could not be lengthened.
The preliminary report of the parliamentary Select Committee considering the Crossrail Bill states that the committee is convinced of the need for a Crossrail station at Woolwich, and given that it would be "exceptional value for money", will require it to be added to the Bill.
Mayor Ken Livingstone has launched a new campaign to get Crossrail built, ahead of the hearing of evidence related to the scheme by a Commons select committee next week. The Mayor noted that the scheme was even more important to London in the long term than the Olympics.
Transport secretary Alastair Darling announced that proposed "launch site" for Crossrail tunnel boring machines in Hanbury Street, just off Brick Lane in Tower Hamlets, has been scrapped in favour of boring from two remaining sites at Canary Wharf and Royal Oak. The move follows strong local opposition to the Hanbury Street boring site.
Tower Hamlets council want consideration given to building Crossrail with a single "drive" to build the tunnels through from one end to the other, rather than the current scheme which involves a disruptive "launch site" being built in Spitalfields to tunnel the route from there in both directions.
The debate on the Crossrail Bill in the House of Commons included talks to amend the bill to allow Crossrail to reach Reading and Ebbsfleet as originally planned - but Alastair Darling warned that the scheme must not get too big to be delivered.
After the first sitting by the Select Committee examining the Crossrail Bill, there are still 350 lodged objections to the proposed scheme - which could take the Committee a year to examine.
Information on revised proposals for the Crossrail station at Whitechapel, submitted as part of the Crossrail Bill, will be presented at Whitechapel Sports Centre on 2 and 3 September. The adjusted proposals offer improved interchange between Crossrail and Underground lines, as well as level access to existing lines in addition to Crossrail.
The Crossrail Bill has passed its second reading in the House of Commons and has now been formally committed to a Select Committee, which will examine petitions against the Bill from 16 September onwards.
Transport Secretary made the case for Crossrail at the reading of the Crossrail Bill in Parliament today, saying that relying on Victorian infrastructure was not adequate for London's growing needs; concerns were raised by Conservative MPs over funding and by Bethnal Green & Bow MP George Galloway over the effect of construction in his constituency.
The Crossrail Bill should receive its second reading in the House of Commons on Mon 18 July; the House can then grant assent to the project in principle, with further discussions then taking place on the details of the scheme.
The second reading of the Crossrail Bill, which will authorise the construction of the £10bn cross-London rail link, has been postponed until after the parliamentary summer break.
Norman Haste, Cross London Rail Links Ltd's chief executive, have announced that he will be stepping down in favour of a new candidate to take the project forward from parliamentary approval to delivery.
LB Newham are opposing some parts of the Crossrail proposals which affect their area, in order to gain assurances from the Crossrail team. Concerns include the stopping pattern of trains at Maryland station near Stratford, bus interchange at the proposed Custom House station, relocation of businesses in Stratford, and engineering disruption in Stratford and Canning Town.
A "carry over" motion for the Crossrail Bill was passed today in both the House of Commons and House of Lords, enabling it to be reopened at its current stage in the new Parliament in May.
MPs are being asked to support a "carry-over motion" which would freeze the Crossrail Bill to allow it to be reopened at its current stage once Parliament begins again after the election in May. Without such a motion, the whole Bill would have to be dropped and restarted anew after the election.
Parliament will break up on Monday following the Prime Minister's calling of the General Election, but in the rush to push through the remaining legislation on the table, the Crossrail Bill could fall by the wayside.
Concerns have been raised over the subsidence and damage which tunnelling for Crossrail may cause to the large number of listed buildings the route passes beneath.
The promoters of the Superlink scheme, a rival to Crossrail, pushed for their scheme to be given further consideration, saying that Crossrail will not do enough to relieve Underground overcrowding.
BAA will oppose the Crossrail Bill in order to change a clause in the Bill which allows the Secretary of State for Transport to take control of BAA's Heathrow Express services, which were introduced at a cost of £750m to BAA. They are hoping to force a rewrite of the Bill to nullify the takeover clause.
The Rail Freight Group has warned that plans to give Crossrail trains exclusive use of the Great Western Relief lines between Westbourne Park and Maidenhead will force freight and mid-distance commuter services onto the fast lines currently used by intercity services to the West Country and South Wales, which could result in slower and less reliable intercity journeys.
After many years of debate and a previous failed bill attempt, a new Crossrail Bill was deposited in the House of Commons today. The Bill and its associated documents run to some 17,000 pages providing the framework for final approval of Crossrail's construction. However, funding has not yet been arranged; a new consultation is expected over the summer on how to fund the £10bn scheme.
The Mail on Sunday has reported that the Treasury will release £7.5bn for Crossrail, with the remaining funding to be negotiated with London businesses. The funding would accompany the Crossrail Link Bill which will be deposited in Parliament in a week's time on 23 February. The funding would be released in three £2.5bn annual instalments from 2010 to 2012.
A ten-day long "information round" where information about the proposed Crossrail Bill, which would authorise the construction of Crossrail, will be held at information centres along the Crossrail route from February 10-19.
A company called Superlink has proposed an alternative scheme to Crossrail. The rival would send services much further out, to destinations such as Reading, Stansted and Guildford. The promoters believe that the scheme will have a smaller "funding gap" and will recoup much more money in fares than the current scheme.
Cross London Rail Links have announced that Crossrail will no longer continue as far as Ebbsfleet on its south eastern branch - instead, trains will terminate at Abbey Wood, with cross-platform interchange to South Eastern services.
Hounslow Council are proposing a new Crossrail branch to Brentford and Hounslow, to extend some of the Crossrail trains that would terminate at Paddington under current plans.
The Queen's Speech, which announces proposed new legislation each year, included the Crossrail Bill. This is a further step towards getting Parliamentary approval for the scheme, but funding remains an issue.
Greenwich Council, which has just submitted its responses to the Crossrail consultation, says that over 3000 people responded in support to cards it distributed in favour of a Crossrail station at Woolwich. However, the Crossrail team are concerned about freight trains passing through an underground station at Woolwich.
Greenwich Council, which has just submitted its responses to the Crossrail consultation, says that over 3000 people responded in support to cards it distributed in favour of a Crossrail station at Woolwich. However, the Crossrail team are concerned about freight trains passing through an underground station at Woolwich.
The second round of the Crossrail consultation has ended. A further "information round" will be done around local areas before submitting the final Hybrid Bill to Parliament.
A Reading campaign group have launched a final call for businesses in Reading to push for Crossrail to be extended from Maidenhead to Reading at a cost of £300m. The second round of consultation on Crossrail ends soon.
Council leaders in Berks & South Bucks have welcomed Crossrail, but hope that efforts will be made to avoid allowing Green Belt stations at Iver, Burnham and Taplow to turn into park-and-ride sites causing extra car traffic in the area.
The Independent says that civil servants have persuaded the Treasury to take on almost the entire cost of the £10bn Crossrail project, rather than use a PFI (Private Finance Initiative) contract. Keeping costs public would help to keep them under control. £2bn would still be sought from Transport for London and local business along the route; however, that funding has already been planned by the Mayor.
Adrian Montague, who delivered the Montague Report for the Government into the business case for Crossrail earlier this year, as taken over from Sir Christopher Benson as chairman of Cross London Rail Links Ltd, the joint TfL/SRA company appointed with developing the project. The rest of the board has also been shaken up with the DfT taking over the SRA positions.
Cross-party support was given at a recent meeting of Thames Valley councils for campaigning to extend Crossrail's proposed Maidenhead branch to Reading.
Transport minister Tony McNulty has said that building Crossrail is a huge challenge in terms of planning, engineering and financing. However he said that the Bill to build Crossrail will receive a second reading before the general election.
Mayor Ken Livingstone told a meeting of business leaders that the majority of the dozen or so serious contractors invited to bid for the £10bn Crossrail contract will be Chinese companies. He highlighted Shanghai's ability to construct an entire new underground system in the space of three years.
A ventilation and access shaft for Crossrail has been sunk as part of the Moorhouse 20-storey office development project near Moorgate in the City. The development project will also be providing a third of the Moorgate ticket hall for Crossrail's Liverpool St & Moorgate combined station - even before the Crossrail Bill has been deposited in Parliament.
A meeting of councils, business, environmental groups and transport authorities was held yesterday to start planning the Crossrail Bill, which aims to get powers to build the cross-London rail link.
Some reports suggest that the business community may be expected to provide £5bn for Crossrail, to fill a funding gap - however no funding plans have yet been announced for the project. Canary Wharf Group may have to pay for the station serving the Isle of Dogs, costed at £400m.
The Borough of Slough's transport commissioner, Dexter Smith, has backed Crossrail, saying that is will bring prosperity and unlock new investment with its direct links through central London and improved access to Heathrow.
A second round of consultation has begun on Crossrail, lasting until 27 October. Information will be available from "drop-in" centres at Farringdon (43 Cowcross St) and Spitalfields (91 Brick La).
Kingston is officially dropped from Crossrail in favour of Maidenhead, as the second round of consultation is announced - this time for a route between Maidenhead and Shenfield with branches to Heathrow and Ebbsfleet as before.
Crossrail has been given the go-ahead in today's transport strategy announcement with Transport Secretary Alastair Darling announcing that a Hybrid Bill - required for construction - will be deposited in Parliament as soon as possible. However, funding has not yet been secured - Mr Darling only said that government will work with the Mayor and London businesses to organise funding.
A major government announcement on transport strategy is due tomorrow (Tuesday) - with Alastair Darling expected to give the go-ahead to Crossrail with the creation of a Hybrid Bill to be submitted to Parliament.
A decision on Crossrail is expected within the next fortnight, and some sources expect the Richmond & Kingston branch to be dropped, following some residential opposition along that route. Dropping the Richmond branch would also save money, making a go-ahead more likely.
The Lord Mayor of the City of London wrote in today's Evening Standard to warn the government that excuses over Crossrail were "wearing thin" and that he wanted action rather than words from ministers.
Westminster sources have suggested that Crossrail will be given the green light within the next two weeks - either as part of Gordon Brown's Spending Review on 12 July, or as a separate announcement by Transport Secretary Alastair Darling within days of that. These sources also suggest that some funding will be obtained by borrowing against London parking ticket revenues, which by law must be used for transport projects.
The Crossrail team are designing large-scale improvements to Ealing Broadway, Romford and Custom House stations as part of their project, as well as refining central area stations which will feature platform-edge doors.
Speaking to London Tonight, Prime Minister Tony Blair said that the Government is "committed to Crossrail and the other major London projects". He acknowledged that there were funding issues to overcome but also said "I don't think there is any question of us not doing [the major projects]". However, no firm decision is expected until after the local and European elections on 10 June.
82 chief executives of London businesses have written a letter to transport secretary Alastair Darling, offering to help fund the long-awaited Crossrail project, by accepting a one-off business levy. Government is expected to ask businesses for £2bn of the project's £10bn cost.
Addressing journalists on Thursday, the Prime Minister reiterated his support for the Crossrail scheme and said that an announcement would be made "shortly, hopefully".
Adrian Montague's report to the government suggests a "stakeholder equity" scheme whereby the public and businesses could buys stakes in the Crossrail company in return for dividends and a say in the running of the company.
Crossrail have plans to safeguard land in Twickenham for a Crossrail depot, and Twickenham residents are concerned about the effect this will have on their property prices - given that Crossrail hasn't yet been given a green light.
Ken Livingstone made a renewed late effort to influence the government's decision on Crossrail, due soon after 3 months studying the Adrian Montague report. He pushed the estimated £19bn benefits and 27,000 extra jobs to be gained from the £10bn project.
In light of recent fears that the Government is proposing a severely cut-down version of Crossrail, consisting solely of the core tunnels from Paddington to Liverpool Street, big business has threatened not to provide any funding at all for the project if it does not connect Canary Wharf and the City with Heathrow Airport.
An official announcement from Government on Crossrail is expected next week, but it is rumoured that a plan to cut the cost of Crossrail to £2bn of public money by restricting it to Paddington - Liverpool Street is being seriously considered. This would anger the Mayor, who insists that the Treasury should invest £5bn in Crossrail to reflect its importance to London and London's importance to the country's economy.
The Mayor denies a raise in council tax will be needed to fund Crossrail, but a 1.5% tube and bus fare increase may be needed if operating costs are higher than forecast. Meanwhile, two MPs are supporting a business levy to help fund the cost of the project.
The Evening Standard reports that there is speculation that the Treasury is considering a "second Crossrail-style scheme" which would involve private sector funding of the tunnel construction, but no new trains and no cash to operate the route.
A new DfT report on Crossrail is due out supporting the project, but the Treasury is only willing to commit £2bn. Therefore the Mayor is proposing that money be raised from either bonds, or failing that, from higher fares, business rates and/or council tax.
Links & Sources