Friday, May 14, 1999 Published at 09:07 GMT 10:07 UK
Prescott launches Dome tube link
An artist's impression of the extension
Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott has opened the Jubilee Line's much-delayed first section, marking the occasion with a seven-minute rail ride to the Millennium Dome.
The extension opened more than a year late, but Mr Prescott remained positive the new link will be ready before the dome's opening on millennium eve.
Travelling from Stratford, east London, to Greenwich in south London, he said: "The extension is state-of-the art technology and will provide a world-class railway for a world-class city."
But for the moment, only part of the line linking the dome with central London will operate, and there are still concerns that the full link will not be ready.
Delay worries dismissed
London Transport's chief executive Denis Tunnicliffe brushed the worries aside, saying: "We are very confident that the link will be ready for the opening of the Dome.
"The good thing about today is that there is a direct underground connection to the Dome already in place."
London Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Simon Sperryn said there could be "little doubt" that this could be achieved.
"We are absolutely delighted that the first phase of the line is now opening. This is a hugely important milestone for public transport in London," he said.
Work on the 10-mile, 11-station extension started in autumn 1993, and the entire link from Green Park in central London to Stratford via Docklands was due to have been completed by March 1998.
But the project was plagued with problems, including work being halted after the collapse of a tunnel at Heathrow Airport which was being built using methods similar to those on the extension.
The second part of the extension, from North Greenwich to Waterloo in south London, is due to open in late summer.
The final part, from Waterloo to Green Park in central London, should be ready in the autumn.
The cost of the project has jumped from £2.1bn at the start of work to £3.3bn
Millennium Dome organisers estimate that about 42% of the expected 12 million visitors to the Dome during the year 2000 will use the Jubilee Line extension to travel there.