BUSINESS LEADERS fear London's £10bn Crossrail project will be undermined by a decision to delay discussions on the funding package until the end of next year.
They fear the project will lose momentum if funding is not in place by the time enabling legislation is enacted.
The delay is the result of the government's decision earlier this month to put back by 12 months publication of the Sir Michael Lyons' review of local government funding.
Ministers have said that Crossrail's fi nancial package would depend in part on the outcome of the review.
Crossrail lobby group Campaign for Crossrail used this week's Labour party conference to tackle Darling and his ministers and urge them to start funding consultation.
The group is backed by the London Development Agency, business lobbyist London First, the Greater London Authority, developer Canary Wharf Group, trade union UCATT and the Railway Forum.
Canary Wharf roup rategic advisor Howard Dawber said:'The Department for Transport is very encouraging in a 'we need this railway' kind of way.
But we need a plan.
'We are not even asking for money at this stage, we are just asking when we are going to talk financing.
But others played down the problem.
'It's nonsense, ' said Railway Forum director general Adrian Lyons. 'We don't need funding now - that's next year's job.
What we need now is for civil engineers to come up and find ways of building this thing more cheaply.' CLRL external affairs director Bernard Gambrill also said funding was not an issue at this stage.