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Government pressed on 'vital' Olympic interchange

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LONDON'S BID for the 2012 Olympics will be damaged if the government fails to kick start work on the £250M northern ticket hall at King's Cross Underground station, business leaders warned this week.

Business lobby group London First is urging the Department for Transport (DfT) to make a decision before the International Olympic Committee (IOC) visits the capital to assess London's bid next month.

The northern ticket hall was shelved from the project to upgrade King's Cross underground station in 2003 after costs spiralled (NCE 8 May 2003).

But it is seen as a key part of the interchange between the Channel Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL) terminus at neighbouring St Pancras and the Underground.

The CTRL is to provide a shuttle service between St Pancras and Stratford, where most Olympic facilities are located.

A review of the scheme's feasibility by a joint venture of consultant Mott Parsons Gibb is complete and the government was expected to make a statement on it before Christmas.

London First policy director Irving Yass said it was vital that the government makes a positive statement by the time IOC delegates visit London on 16 February to meet the bid team and assess the transport links.

'We need that interchange to get direct access from the underground to the CTRL platforms, ' he said. 'We keep hearing there is going to be an imminent decision from the government.

A DfT spokesman said: 'We hope to make a decision soon.'

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