Alistair Darling, secretary of state for transport, has reaffirmed the government's commitment to London's massive Crossrail project.
Darling yesterday (22 February) introduced the long-trailed Hybrid Bill for the project into parliament, a move that should give the infrastructure scheme the green light.
The minister said: 'The case for Crossrail is clear, and the government has long said that it is committed to the scheme. Last July, when I gave the go ahead for Crossrail, I said that we would be introducing a bill for the project, and today sees that vital next stage.'
He claimed the £10 billion Crossrail scheme, linking Maidenhead in the West with Shenfield in the East and Abbey Wood in the South East, will:
bring in nearly twice as many benefits to the UK as it costs to build the project;
support the development of London as a world city and its role as the financial centre of Europe and the UK;
support the economic growth of London and its regeneration areas by tackling congestion and help to cope with future transport pressures on the existing network; and
improve rail access to and within London.
'Crossrail will significantly improve travel into and across the centre of the capital,' he said. 'It will bring huge benefits to the British economy as a whole and be a catalyst for regeneration in the east of London.
`Introducing a bill for the project after years of uncertainty represents a major step forward. It is also another example of the government taking decisions now - not just for today but for generations to come. It will anticipate the pressures on our transport system in 10 or 20 years,' Darling added.by Ed Dorrell