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Further Crossrail study sparks fears of delay

BACKERS OF London's Crossrail project to link Paddington and Liverpool Street stations this week voiced fears that the project could be delayed by studies to reroute the line to the Canary Wharf development in Docklands.

They are urging the government to press ahead with the Paddington to Liverpool Street section and develop options for the eastern route beyond Liverpool Street as a second phase.

Last week transport minister John Spellar said he wanted the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) and Transport for London to report on the feasibility, costs and financing options of Crossrail.

Spellar indicated that the study would look at options to route the line via Canary Wharf as well as long standing plans to connect into existing railway lines out of Liverpool Street.

'The project development work on an east-west cross London rail link is looking at a wide range of route and service pattern options and early next year we shall be consulting on the results of that work, ' he said.

The announcement comes after deputy prime minister John Prescott gave the project the goahead in May, subject to £150M worth of scoping studies.

But Aecom Maunsell chief executive Peter Head said he was frustrated by the government's failure to move ahead with procurement of a private consortium to build and finance the project.

He fears further consultation on the project could delay the scheme, which is scheduled for completion in 2010 according to the government's 10 year transport plan (NCE 27 July/3 August 2000).

Aecom Maunsell and Arup have already developed proposals for such a scheme and claim support from the SRA (NCE 25 January). They fear the scheme's timetable could slip if further consultation means that the government fails to introduce enabling legislation for the project by November next year.

'They could have gone out to tender before the hybrid bill progresses, ' Head said. 'They could then commission the company to support the scheme through the hybrid bill stage.'

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