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Parliament gives Crossrail all clear

London's Crossrail project cleared its last Parliamentary hurdle last night as the bill to enable works to start gained Royal Assent.

MPs in the House of Commons approved minor amendments made by the House of Lords to the Crossrail Bill, and in doing so established the Crossrail Act.

It means that Cross London Rail Links, client for the £15.9bn project, can now begin awarding revamped design contracts for the scheme in earnest.

"Royal Assent is the most significant milestone in the history of
Crossrail," said Cross London Rail Links executive chairman Doug Oakervee Executive Chairman

"After years of planning and discussion, we are ready to
move into the delivery phase of a project that will benefit London,
the south east region and the UK as a whole."

Transport secretary Ruth Kelly added: "Crossrail has been talked about for decades, so I am delighted that now we have secured both the funding package and parliamentary approval work can finally begin to deliver this fantastic project."

Due to be operational by 2017, Crossrail will run from Maidenhead and Heathrow in the west through tunnels under central London - with new stations at Paddington, Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road, Farringdon, Liverpool Street,Whitechapel, Isle of Dogs (Canary Wharf) - then out to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east.

The Crossrail Act grants powers to acquire land and for Crossrail to
be built and maintained. Enabling works are due to start next year,
with main construction works set to begin in 2010.

However, despite clearing all the necessary hurdles, there are still concerns that funding problems could yet derail the project (click here).

In response to the Royal Assent, London Chamber of Commerce policy director Helen Hill said she was relieved that the project was still on track.

"London businesses will be relieved that the Crossrail Bill has now passed through Parliament," said Hill.

"Crossrail is worth £30bn to the UK economy and is essential to increase capacity on the capital’s overstretched transport network. The government’s continued commitment to this vital scheme will be a boost for business confidence during these difficult times."

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