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Rail minister urged to back Crossrail extension

crossrail

MPs, council leaders and businesses have urged rail minister Jo Johnson to back a Crossrail extension to Ebbsfleet.

In a letter to Johnson, the group called for the the £15.4 bn Elizabeth line’s south-eastern arm to continue from Abbey Wood to Ebbsfleet. They also want it to include a new station at London City Airport.

It asks for £25M to be set aside in the Budget for business case to be made for Crossrail to Ebbsfleet. Backers of the extension say that building the extension could create thousands of homes and jobs in the Thames Gateway.

Conservative MP for north Kent constituency Bexleyheath & Crayford Sir David Evennett said: “This is a crucial opportunity for the government to create a boom of jobs, opportunities and homes in an area that needs investment to unlock its potential. [It] will join up our transport network, bring Kent and south-east London properly into the fold.”

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

Johnson, who is MP for Orpington in south London, has previously told MPs that he shares their frustrations about the route’s shortening, but that any extension would “require a strong business case and need to be technically feasible, and include the identification of funding”.

News of politicians and business leaders backing Crossrail’s extension come after proposals for a £1.5bn Crossrail connection to Ebbsfleet received backing from the Thames Estuary 2050 Growth Commission earlier this year.

The board, led by National Infrastructure Commission chairman Sir John Armitt, called on the government to provide £20M for project development and said it could be delivered by 2029.

Calls for a Crossrail connection to Kent were also backed earlier this year by High Speed 1 chief executive Dyan Crowther.

HS1 owns Ebbsfleet International station which handles Eurostar services to the Continent and Southeastern rail services.

“Of course, we are very interested and would be very supportive of a Crossrail connection at Ebbsfleet,” she said.

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