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Last Updated: Monday, 19 July, 2004, 15:00 GMT 16:00 UK
On track for Olympic bid?

The announcement of plans for a cross-London rail link fails to answer the two main questions which have blighted its passage through Parliament.

Shelved in the 1990s after the recession temporarily depressed passenger journeys into and through the capital, Crossrail was revived in 2001 with a 154m budget from the government.

A business case was presented by Cross London Rail Links Ltd more than a year later but questions were soon raised about if it would be ready for the 2012 Olympics and how it would all be paid for.

But on Monday warnings of a 2013 finish date greeted the news that the government may finally back Crossrail's route to the statute books.

And just last week the Chancellor Gordon Brown failed to ease the current 2bn shortfall in funding by leaving the project out of his annual spending review.

Ken Livingstone
If Crossrail does get the go-ahead he would be lobbying for it to be pushed through as quickly as possible in time for the Olympics
Spokeswoman for the Mayor of London

Last year a leaked Treasury report claimed that without Crossrail, London's transport network would struggle if the Olympics was brought to the city.

Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell said that no Olympic planning had been based on Crossrail, and Transport Minister Alistair Darling said the scale of the project would make such a date unlikely.

But his defence that it was "a huge project, one of the biggest the country will see" was dismissed by London mayor Ken Livingstone as "nonsense" suggesting it could be ready as soon as 2010.

On Monday a spokeswoman for Mr Livingstone admitted Crossrail was not crucial to London's bid to stage the Olympics but the Mayor would still like to see it started as soon as possible.

"If Crossrail does get the go-ahead he would be lobbying for it to be pushed through as quickly as possible in time for the Olympics," she said.

"But we can't take the project forward without funding for it."

Forecasts have been made that Crossrail could carry 200,000 people during the morning peak period and create up to 100,000 jobs.

And supporters say the high speed link is a vital part of the regeneration of east London, with the leading executives of 82 of London's largest companies promising they would accept a one-off supplementary business rate to fund the rail link.

Canary Wharf
Crossrail would help support a rise in people working in Canary Wharf

If it goes ahead Crossrail line 1 will create a brand new network of services linking the Isle of Dogs in the east and Heathrow airport in the west of London.

The heart of the project is the construction of a new tunnelled route across London, with new stations at Liverpool Street, Farringdon, Tottenham Court Road, Bond Street and Paddington.

Existing suburban rail services will also be able to run through London from as far east as Shenfield in Essex, to Reading in Berkshire.

Crossrail 2 would create a network of services linking Clapham Junction in south-west London to Dalston in the north-east of the city.

But it has been hindered by delays since the business case for Crossrail, from the Strategic Rail Authority and Transport for London, was handed to the government for scrutiny in February 2003.

Then it was expected a Hybrid Bill would be submitted to Parliament in April 2004.

However the organisers estimated again during the public consultation last autumn.

They predicted an application for the railway made to Parliament from November 2004, construction starting in 2007 and trains operational in 2013, a date they now say is the earliest possible.

Government backing for Crossrail
19 Jul 04  |  London
Brown 'to tighten spending plans'
12 Jul 04  |  Business
Blair gives Crossrail backing
29 Oct 03  |  London
Crossrail given green light
14 Jul 03  |  London

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