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2012 Olympic win could delay Crossrail start by five years

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LONDON'S £10bn Crossrail project faces a five year delay after London was awarded the 2012 Olympic Games, the departing chief executive of the project promoter told NCE this week.

Outgoing chief executive of Cross London Rail Links Norman Haste threw doubt on whether the two projects could be constructed in parallel.

Last week the International Olympic Committee voted in Singapore to award London the right to host the 2012 Olympic Games.

Construction of the principal Crossrail tunnel between Paddington and Stratford is currently scheduled to start on site in 2008 and complete by 2013.

This would see the project coincide with the £2.7bn ogramme of work to transform Stratford and the Lower Lea Valley into the Olympic Park.

Speaking ahead of next Monday's second reading of the Crossrail Bill, Haste called for serious debate on whether construction of Crossrail should be delayed until after the Games.

'The idea of Crossrail moving at a slower pace is worth considering- a debate has to be had, ' Haste said.

Haste fears that the two sites are too close together and that the sheer volume of work would escalate costs.

'The strain put on the core skills needed for both projects is going to have to be looked at very carefully. It's naïve to think it will not put up construction costs.' A spokesman for Cross London Rail Links conceded doing both projects in parallel would be 'challenging but not insurmountable'.

'Yes there is quite a challenge on resources to do two major capital projects, but this is a time for London to be bold, ' he said.

Professor of transport infrastructure at Imperial ollege and Transport for London board member Stephen Glaister agreed that costs could soar if both projects are attempted simultaneously.

Construction costs are already going up very fast and the Olympic work is bound to accelerate them, ' he said.

Arup director Peter Head also questioned whether Crossrail was now fundable, with Londoners facing fare increases and an extra £100 on council tax bills to pay for the Olympics. He said it was unrealistic to fund a large proportion of Crossrail through a business levy.

'I don't think the money can be raised from Londoners for Crossrail and the Olympics, ' said Head.

Government consultation on funding Crossrail is due to be launched in the next few weeks.

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