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Crossrail construction cost viability questioned

Two prominent figures have cast doubt on the funding for the controversial £10 billion Crossrail link in light of the announcement that the Olympics will be coming to London in 2012.

Arup director Peter Head and Transport for London board member Stephen Glaister have questioned the trans-London rail link's cost ahead of a crucial reading in the House of Commons today.

Glaister has claimed that the burden on the construction industry if the two major projects happened at the same time would cause construction costs to rise considerably. Supporting this argument, Head suggested a phased construction for Crossrail either side of the Olympics will be necessary.

Head also suggested using spoil from tunnel excavation in the massive landscaping programme required for the sports extravaganza.

Glaister said: 'The Olympics announcement makes it much harder to justify the costs of Crossrail. The link, through delays over the years, has become much more expensive because of the passage of time anyway, and the government has still not made a statement as to how it is going to be paid for.'

Head went on to claim that the only way that the sporting event could viably be constructed was through a 'phased process'. 'One thing needs to complement the other, as opposed to them just fighting each other. Spoil taken from Crossrail could be used to build up land levels. That material would be quite suitable for use in Olympic construction.'

The Arup director also suggested limiting the Crossrail construction to just its central portion - a stretch of track between Liverpool Street and Paddington - for at least until after the Olympics have taken place.

The second reading of the Crossrail Bill - where politicians vote on the progress of the rail proposals - will take place later on today. But industry figures such as Head and Glaister are still not satisfied that the government has committed guaranteed money to the project.

Alistair Darling, secretary of state for transport, introduced the long-trailed Hybrid Bill for the project into parliament in February (AJ 23.02.05).

by Rob Sharp

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