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Queen gives green light for Crossrail to go full steam ahead

PUBLISHED: 16:07 23 July 2008 | UPDATED: 13:28 05 October 2010

THE controversial Crossrail project has finally got the green light to go full steam ahead. Work on the largest civil engineering project in Europe is about to start after it completed its Parliamentary process after receiving Royal Assent from the Queen last night (Tuesday). The £16 billion project, the largest public transport network in London and the South East for half-a-century, is on track’ to run the first passenger trains by 2017

Mike Brooke

THE controversial Crossrail project has finally got the green light to go full steam ahead.

Work on the largest civil engineering project in Europe is about to start after it completed its Parliamentary process after receiving Royal Assent from the Queen last night (Tuesday).

The £16 billion project, the largest public transport network in London and the South East for half-a-century, is 'on track' to run the first passenger trains by 2017.

The line will mean a new, fast link from Canary Wharf and East London to the City, West End and Heathrow Airport, directly connecting Kent and Essex to Berkshire through the heart of the capital.

Two branches in the west will run from Heathrow and Maidenhead, joining at Southall on the existing Great Western main line, then into tunnels at Paddington running under central London with new stations at Paddington, Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road, Farringdon, Liverpool Street and Whitechapel in London's East End.

At Whitechapel, it splits into two branches to Kent and Essex.

The Kent link continues deep underground through the Isle of Dogs, with a station at Canary Wharf and another at Custom House, then under the Thames to Woolwich to join the North Kent Line to Abbey Wood.

The other link to Essex tunnels under Mile End and Bow to surface at Stratford interchange, then runs along the existing Liverpool Street main line to Shenfield.

The Crossrail Act grants powers to acquire land as well as to build the 'super tube' line, with initial work starting next year and the main construction in 2010.

Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly said: "This will generate jobs and economic growth, help revitalise some of our most deprived areas and have major improvements for the travelling public."

ROUGH RIDE SO FAR

Crossrail has been debated on and off for 20 years. It hasn't been an easy ride for the East End.

Original plans for massive excavation shafts at Spitalfields and a temporary conveyor belt to dump the 'spoils' at Mile End set the community aflame in a wave of angry protest, before the proposals were modified.

All told, there were 600 petitions from across London lodged in Parliament after the Crossrail Bill was deposited in February, 2005.

These included fears about the construction disrupting the community and destroying parkland, especially at Spitalfields, Whitechapel and Mile End, to objections against noise.

Much of the objections have been placated under pressure with modified construction proposals, especially the excavation and ventilation shafts that threatened to blight the East End.

But now the cash has been raised and Parliamentary approval achieved, with the Queen signing on the dotted line, work can finally begin after two decades of argument.

London Mayor Boris Johnson said: "Crossrail can act as a catalyst for regeneration across the whole capital, particularly in East London.

"Those living east of the City will have greater access to jobs in central London and we expect to see the area flourish from investment."

CROSSRAIL KEY FACTS

Crossrail will carry 200 million passengers a year, twice the number of London Underground's 'youngest' line, the Jubilee to Stratford.

It will run 24 trains every hour in each direction during peak times, roughly one every two or three minutes, relieving the chronic overcrowding on both the Central Line running parallel from Liverpool Street westward and the Piccadilly Line westward to Heathrow.

An additional 1.5m commuters will be within 60 minutes' of London's key business districts, it has been worked out, with 30,000 more jobs forecast as a result, adding £20bn to the UK economy.

Trains will travel up to 100mph on the surface and 60mph in tunnels.

Canary Wharf will be 43 minutes from Heathrow, 31 minutes from the West End.

Ilford will be 20 minutes from the West End, Woolwich 22 minutes and Romford 31 minutes.

The twin-bore tunnels will be wide enough to carry main line trains through the heart of central London, with their internal diameter at about 18ft (6m), compared with 12ft (3.8m) on the existing Underground network.

In all, 14 miles of twin-bore tunnels will be excavated, from Stratford and Woolwich in the east to Paddington in the west.

www.crossrail.co.uk

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