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Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 March, 2004, 06:43 GMT
Work starts on Stratford station
Tunnelling work at Stratford Station
It took 17 months to tunnel the five miles to St Pancras
The first stone of an international railway station that is expected to regenerate London's East End has been laid on Tuesday.

Stratford International station should be completed by 2007 and will reduce travel times to central London to six-and-a-half minutes.

It will open when the Channel Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL) reaches St Pancras.

But it is also a key part of plans to regenerate Stratford as well as London's bid to host the 2012 Olympics.

The new station will be built near the existing Stratford station which has Tube and rail links.

It's phenomenally important for the regeneration of the East End as a whole
Transport Minister Tony McNulty
Transport Minister Tony McNulty told BBC London it would be an important addition to Britain's railway network.

He added: "It will mean Stratford is literally seven minutes away from the heart of London, which is very important for, amongst other things, the Olympic bid.

"It will take time off the journeys to Paris and Brussels it's phenomenally important for the regeneration of the East End as a whole."

The laying of the foundation stone marks the end of the tunnelling part of the 24-mile second section of the link from north Kent to St Pancras in Kings Cross.

The boring machine, nicknamed Annie, broke through the surface near St Pancras in January after 17 months spent tunnelling five miles from Stratford.

There are also plans to build 4,500 homes and create 30,000 jobs in Stratford as part of a major regeneration scheme.

Rail link tunnel breaks through
27 Jan 04  |  London

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