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Crossrail route finalised at last

NEWS

THE DEFINITIVE route for London's east-west Crossrail link was unveiled last month after intense pressure from government and London businesses to pin down costs.

Project promoter Cross London Rail Links (CLRL) has dropped proposals set out in its 'benchmark' plan - and favoured by the Strategic Rail Authority - for a west London extension to Richmond and Kingston. It will instead drive the line out to Maidenhead, a far less technically challenging option.

This avoids a clash with Richmond residents, who were threatening to fight Crossrail on the grounds that it would effectively remove them from the London Underground District Line services.

To the east, Crossrail will fork at Whitechapel, with a northern branch connecting via Stratford to Shenfield, and a southern branch connecting with the Docklands en-route to a new Eurostar station at Ebbsfleet.

The newly finalised route is £750M cheaper than the £9.74bn benchmark scheme. 'Fixing the route is about delivering a main railway that delivers best benefits for optimum costs, ' said CLRL chief executive Norman Haste. 'But we're still asking for a big figure.'

Transport secretary Alistair Darling ordered CLRL to make Crossrail cheaper following a review of its proposals by Network Rail deputy chairman Adrian Montague, published in July (GE August 04).

Haste said the final choice of route came after tough negotiations between CLRL and the Department for Transport (DfT).

'We now need to work closely with the Treasury, DfT and Transport for London (TfL) to put together proposals for the way we think the project should be financed and funded, ' he added.

It is understood that increases in business tax in the capital will deliver £2bn towards the cost of construction, leaving government to make up the difference.

CLRL is forming a working group to study funding and procurement with the Treasury, DfT and TfL But Haste ruled out major opportunities for involvement of private sector finance in delivering the civils component of the scheme.

The extensive tunnelling and station construction works will probably be let as multiple civil engineering contracts.

These would be managed directly by the publicly owned client: it is expected CLRL will be reformed later this year with the DfT and TfL holding 50/50 stakes.

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