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Crossrail extension to Ebbsfleet buoyed by government fund

Ebbsfleet international railway station 3to2

The proposed Crossrail extension to Ebbsfleet has been boosted by the release of almost £5M in government cash for the development of transport proposals connecting the Abbey Wood terminus with Ebbsfleet.

The money has been made available as part of the Thames Estuary 2050 Growth Commission fund aimed at boosting economic growth in the region.

Bexley Council has said it will use the £4.85M committed by the government to develop low cost proposals for enhancing transport services between Abbey Wood and Ebbsfleet, to advance the £1.5bn Crossrail extension proposals.

Although the government has not specified how the money should be spent, Bexley Council has said it would “waste no time” in advancing the Crossrail extension’s business case.

The council said the announcement followed four years of campaigning to reverse the 2008 decision to shorten Crossrail’s south-east branch.

Crossrail’s route was initially planned to go the additional 16km to Ebbsfleet but was eventually cut to Abbey Wood to reduce costs.

The funding anouncement comes within weeks of Transport for London commissioner Mike Brown saying the Ebbsfleet extension was “not on the agenda”, and that the current focus should be on completing Crossrail.

The final opening date for Crossrail has yet to be published.

There has been a raft of heavyweight support for the extension of the line. National Infrastructure Commission chair Sir John Armitt gave his backing in June last year and HS1 chief executive Dyan Crowther voiced his support in July last year.

Announcing the new round of funding, communities secretary James Brokenshire said that the Thames Estuary had long been a gateway to the UK economy and had enormous untapped potential.

“Having considered the recommendations of the Thames Estuary 2050 Growth Commission, I have announced a number of steps we are taking to unlock an even brighter future for the estuary’s economy, marking the beginning of a new and bolder approach by this government to support the area,” he said.

“The government’s response sets out its priorities for the Thames Estuary, including the delivery of jobs and homes, addressing local skills challenges and agreeing fully-evidenced Local Industrial Strategies.”

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