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SSRA pushes £10bn rail plan for London

A MAMMOTH £10bn rail development plan for London has been recommended in a confidential report to deputy prime minister John Prescott from the shadow Strategic Rail Authority (sSRA).

The 'London East-West Study' seen by NCE is on Prescott's desk for consideration.

It gives the green light to a revised version of Crossrail as well as the Wimbledon-Hackney route, a direct Heathrow-St Pancras link, and a new strategy for freight traffic through the capital. There are also proposals to develop the capacity of the Great Western lines from Paddington.

Crossrail, with a tunnel between Paddington and Liverpool Street, is costed at £2.8bn and scheduled for construction between 2008 and 2013. The Wimbledon-Hackney route, at £5.3bn, would be built between 2011 and 2016.

The sSRA recommends a cross-platform change between Crossrail and the existing Heathrow Express service at Hayes. Plans to separate commuter and airport passenger traffic between London and Heathrow Airport have already sparked controversy.

Mayor Ken Livingstone said that the cross-London scheme must include a direct link to Heathrow.

But the sSRA wants to separate airport traffic because of the different characteristics of passenger journeys and the need for extra baggage space for air travellers. A high proportion of passengers arriving at Heathrow from abroad heads for destinations in central London.

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