Crossrail gets go ahead as funding deal secured

The Prime Minister today gave Crossrail the go-ahead with a £16bn funding deal to secure its construction.

Crossrail will link Maidenhead and Heathrow in the west with Shenfield and Abbey wood in the East. It will include new stations at key city locations including Bond Street, Farringdon and Canary Wharf.

It will bring an additional one and a half million people to within 60 minutes of London's key business areas and is expected to carry 200m passenger a year.

Work on the £16 billion project will begin in earnest in 2010 and the first trains are expected to run in 2017. It will be Europe's largest civil engineering project and will provide London with a world class railway that supports its growth as a world-leading finance centre. It will help add at least £20 billion to the UK's economy.

The unique deal announced today will mean that Crossrail is both funded by the Government and the businesses that are set to directly benefit from the link. The Parliamentary Bill to secure the necessary powers to begin construction of the link is expected to get Royal Assent in Summer 2008.

The Prime Minister said:

"I believe this is a project of enormous importance not just for London but for the whole country. By generating an additional 30,000 jobs and helping London retain its position as the world's pre-eminent financial centre, it will support Britain's economic growth and maintain Britain's position as a leading world economy. And by delivering quicker journeys from some of the most economically disadvantaged parts of the city to the most economically important, it will support regeneration particularly in the most deprived parts of our country."

The Chancellor of the Exchequer said:

"Crossrail is key to the long term development of London and the UK and I welcome the fact that everyone has worked together to achieve this. We are able to afford this investment on the foundation of a strong economy."

Transport Secretary, Ruth Kelly said:

"Incredible work has gone into securing a Crossrail funding deal that has eluded all previous Governments. Today's announcement paves the way for a rail link that will give a lasting transport legacy to London for centuries to come".

Crossrail will:

* Increase capacity by carrying more than 200 million passengers a year including a 54% increase in rail capacity to Canary Wharf and 21% more to the City. In total Crossrail will add 10% to London's overall transport capacity.

* Add at least £20bn to the UK economy and support an expected 30,000 new high-value jobs by 2026. Fourteen thousand employed in the line's construction.

* Ensure the continued and sustainable growth of London as a world finance centre - including the expansion of Canary Wharf.

* Boost existing regeneration plans in the Thames Gateway and elsewhere.

* Improve transport links by complementing existing rail services and a direct link with Heathrow. For instance providing a direct 43 minute link between Canary Wharf and Heathrow.

* Improve transport opportunities for people with reduced mobility with new step-free Crossrail stations in the central section and accessible trains.

* Is expected to be commercially self-sustaining once operational.