LONDON'S CROSSRAIL scheme will have to be extended beyond Paddington to Liverpool Street to make it viable, former Tory transport minister Steve Norris said this week.
Speaking at the ICE last week, Norris backed the scheme to build a rail tunnel from west to east London which Treasury rejected during his tenure as transport minister from 1992-96.
However, he urged that the scheme must be extended beyond its proposed City terminus: 'We cannot simply submit the same application that failed last time, ' he said. 'It's got to be a lot more than a central London tunnel.
'To the east it is important for it to extend into the Thames Gateway and the Greenwich peninsula. And to the west a link to Heathrow is critical in terms of this country's development.'
At the same meeting Crossrail backer Cross London Rail Links (CLRL) chief executive Keith Berryman dropped strong hints that the final scheme to be submitted to ministers in September would extend into the Thames Gateway area.
'The scheme we are looking at now is a little bit different, ' he said. 'But we are looking quite hard at where the ends of the system could go. We are in the process of getting down to a shortlist.
'It is likely there will be more than one branch in the west and more than one branch in the east.
We will have a scheme to go forward with by the end of this year.'
Berryman added that the scheme, which he hoped would start construction in 2005 and end 'sometime in 2012', would need to be funded mainly through public money.
'We don't think it can be done with private sector money, ' he said.