POLITICIANS IN south west England are threatening to oppose London's £10bn Crossrail project, fearing it could disrupt regional rail services during its five year construction period.
The South West Regional Assembly also fears that Crossrail commuter train paths will take space which could be used by high speed train services.
Crossrail will link rail networks east and west of London via a tunnel between Paddington and Liverpool Street stations.
An enabling bill for the project was receiving its second reading in Parliament as NCE went to press on Tuesday.
Ahead of the reading, the Department for Transport said it remained committed to the scheme despite the programme's overlap with work to build London's Olympic Park (News last week).
'Crossrail and the Olympics are different sorts of projects and require different types of expertise. There would be overlap in some areas but the bulk of Olympic work would be complete before Crossrail started fi ting out its stations, ' said a DfT spokesman.
Crossrail acting chief executive Keith Berryman insisted this week that construction of the link would not damage south west business interests.
But the regional assembly has vowed to lobby for a 'mandatory impact assessment' of the works on the south west, and has not ruled out a petition directly against the bill.
It wants an upgrade of the line between London Waterloo and Exeter. This could then provide alternative routes to the south west if Crossrail work caused disruption to services using Paddington.
Berryman insisted that disruption during construction would be minimal and that there would be no impact on services once Crossrail was up and running.
'Crossrail will use the slow relief lines so there will be no impact on passengers using the high speed lines to Oxford and Reading, ' said Berryman.