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Crossrail gets high profile start

Labour prime minister Gordon Brown and Conservative London mayor Boris Johnson last week united to signal the start of work on Londonís £15.9bn Crossrail scheme and play down concerns over its long-term future.

Brown and Johnson were at Canary Wharf in east London to witness the driving of the first pile for the development’s Crossrail station, marking the start of full scale construction work on the mega-project.

Brown said the start of work was a “signal of faith in the future”.

“If you don’t invest in the future, you have no future. Today we are sending a message that our faith in the future is such that today, in the midst of a downturn, we are starting the biggest infrastructure project in this country − one that will serve not just London, but as a message to the whole of the world that we will invest through this downturn and we will emerge a stronger country as a result,” he said.

“It will change the face of transport in London forever”

Boris Johnson

“This is going ahead now − we’re not going to fail to invest in the future because of the economic difficulties we face,” he added.

Johnson was also behind the message welcoming the fact the project will create 14,000 new jobs. “This amazing project will create and support thousands of jobs, relieve congestion and provide a high speed link between east and west of London,” he said.

Changing the face of transport

“When the first of Crossrail’s chariots glide smoothly along its lines in 2017 it will change the face of transport in London and the south east forever.”

Transport minister Lord Adonis, London’s transport commissioner Peter Hendy, Crossrail chairman Douglas Oakervee and Canary Wharf Group chief executive George Iacobescu also witnessed the driving of the first of the 18.5m deep steel tubular piles that will help form the basis of the new station (see special report ‘Piling Forward’).

The new station is being built in the North Dock between Canary Wharf and West India Quay. When complete it will be one of the largest on the Crossrail network.

The newly named Canary Wharf station will be the first Crossrail station to be built, and will include retail space and a roof-top park.

Wider finance net

Boris Johnson

London mayor Boris Johnson has proposed to widen the geographic area within which developers will be asked to contribute towards project costs.

Johnson has asked the Department for Transport to allow developers in London to cut their Crossrail contributions. Instead developers outside the capital which benefit from Crossrail could be asked to contribute.

Johnson said developers in London could be given a “viability test”, and have an exemption or reduction in their Crossrail contributions if they jeopardise their projects.

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