TRANSPORT SECRETARY Alistair Darling has brought in a team of construction heavyweights to drive forward London's £10bn eastwest Crossrail project, boosting hopes that the government is ready to commit to the scheme.
Darling has agreed with London mayor Ken Livingstone that Network Rail deputy chairman Adrian Montague will take over as independent chairman of the company promoting Crossrail, the newly reformed Cross London Rail Links (CLRL).
Montague will be joined on the board by retiring Mott MacDonald managing director Tim Thirlwall, former Bechtel senior executive John Carter and DfT director of major projects Mike Fuhr.
The move is seen as sign that the government is now serious about building the link.
Montague has extensive experience of working with the government on major infrastructure projects and led the expert review of CLRL's Crossrail business case. Thirwell's appointment is significant as Mott MacDonald has acted as advisor on the project.
Thirwell, Carter and Fuhr replace the three directors originally appointed by the SRA, Richard Bowker, Jim Steer and Doug Sutherland.
The three existing TfL directors - Bob Kiley, Jay Walder and Ian Brown - will remain.
The announcement follows Darling's decision earlier this year to reform CLRL as a joint 50/50 venture between the Department for Transport and the mayor's Transport for London department.
Montague has a casting vote so decisions can be taken even if the two shareholders should disagree.