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Crossrail U-turn as it scraps air shafts after huge protests

PUBLISHED: 19:23 03 April 2009 | UPDATED: 14:15 05 October 2010

CROSSRAIL has today formally scrapped its plans to sink eight massive shafts across London—half of which were to be in the high-density East End. It spells victory after a long campaign by businesses and residents facing years of misery from massive excavations

By Mike Brooke

CROSSRAIL has today formally scrapped its plans to sink eight massive shafts across London—half of which were to be in the high-density East End.

It spells victory after a long campaign by businesses and residents who would have faced years of misery from massive excavations.

Planners of the new super tube’ linking East London and Essex with the City, West End and Heathrow have given in to pressure from protesters and the local authority at Tower Hamlets.

One of the shafts for massive excavation works was to be slap in the middle of the already-congested Spitalfields district.

Also scrapped are ventilation shafts further along the route at Limehouse, Isle of Dogs and Blackwall.

Among the most controversial proposals now axed was a two-mile conveyor belt carrying earth spoils from the Spitalfields excavations to be dumped at Mile End Park.

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST

Today’s announcement follows exclusive revelations by the East London Advertiser last year that planners were getting ready to ditch the shafts altogether. Excavations are now to be started at each end of the 17-mile tunnelling rather than beginning in each direction from the densely-populated East End.

The scrapping was welcomed this afternoon by Tower Hamlets Council.

“We are glad the Mayor of London and Crossrail have at last seen the sense of our arguments,” said Tower Hamlets councillor Marc Francis.

“It’s just a pity residents have had to live with the prospect of chaos and disruption hanging over them such a long time.”

But Mayor Boris Johnson today also welcomed the agreement between Crossrail and the London Fire Bridge who now say eight of the proposed access and ventilation shafts aren’t needed.

The Mayor said: “The decision to remove these shafts from the plans will be welcome for communities that would have been affected.”

MASSIVE DISRUPTION

There is still massive disruption likely at Whitechapel, a major Crossrail interchange with the East London Line now being rebuilt and with the Underground.

Another major problem left to sort is where Crossrail comes to the surface before joining the Liverpool Street main line at Stratford.

Crossrail wants to divert the East Crossway sewer near the historic Grove Hall Park by Bow Bridge to make room for the tunnel gradient to come to the surface.

But that would badly affect the conservation area around the Bow Quarter development and Grove Hall Park.

The local authority wants the tunnelling continued at a deeper level under the sewer and brought to the surface further east on the other side of the River Lea.


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