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Brown turns up to see Boris fire off launch of Crossrail drilling

PUBLISHED: 23:14 15 May 2009 | UPDATED: 14:22 05 October 2010

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Carmen Valino

PRIME Minister Gordon Brown turned up without warning to watch Mayor Boris Johnson launch the start to London's super tube' Crossrail project. He saw Boris launch' a 55ft-tall pile into the ground from a 90ft crane at Canary Wharf, to start the drilling

By Mike Brooke

PRIME Minister Gordon Brown turned up without warning to watch Mayor Boris Johnson launch the start to London’s super tube’ Crossrail project.

He wasn’t on City Hall’s Operation Notice to the world’s media which was lined up at Canary Wharf to watch the drilling start.

Speeches were scheduled from the Mayor, Transport Minister and bosses from Canary Wharf Group and Crossrail, according to City Hall.

But Brown took the rostrum anyway, before watching Boris launch’ a 55ft-tall pile into the ground from a 90ft crane at North Dock, where the new Canary Wharf Crossrail station is being sited.

VANTAGE POINTS

Photographers and TV crew vied for vantage points to try and get the sombre-suited Labour PM in a shot with the flamboyant Tory mayor.

But the two from opposite ends of the political spectrum stayed well away from each other—Brown with local Labour MP Jim Fitzpatrick, his Transport Parliamentary Under-Secretary, and Boris with his City Hall transport boss.

Boris, nevertheless, grabbed the moment in his speech with a neat reminder of the troubles brewing at Westminster.

DIGGING A HOLE

He turned to the Prime Minister and advised: “Gordon, you may think you’re in a hole. But when you’re in a hole as big as Crossrail it’s absolutely vital that you keep digging.”

The £16 billion scheme got under way at 9am when the Mayor pressed a big red button to start Europe’s largest construction project.

You might be able to catch a train west by 2016 from Canary Wharf direct to the City, West End and Heathrow Airport if the scheme is on track, or east under the Thames to north Kent. Crossrail will also branch eastward at Whitechapel heading to Stratford and Essex.

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