The Crossrail project, which will connect the Docklands to the West End, is to be given full backing by the new Government, Transport Minister Philip Hammond has announced.
Speaking on Tuesday during a visit to the Crossrail station building site at Canary Wharf, Hammond confirmed the coalition’s commitment to ‘press ahead’ with Crossrail, allaying fears from some that the scheme would fall victim to cuts.
“The Government is committed to this project. We have no plans to reduce its scope,” he said, adding that leaders were dedicated to delivering the £16bn transport initiative ‘in its entirety.’
Continuing on a note of financial caution, however, Hammond added that the government wishes to deliver the scheme ‘with maximum value for the taxpayer.’
Construction began on Canary Wharf’s new Crossrail station just over a year ago, but with major spending cuts forecasted, some had feared that the Conservative-Liberal alliance would be unenthusiastic about the project.
However, Hammond yesterday praised the Canary Wharf site, calling it ‘an excellent example of how [transport improvements] can be done in an innovative and efficient way, so that we get value for taxpayers’ money.’
“We live in difficult economic times, but that does not mean that we should scrap big projects which would give the economy a vital boost in the future,” he said.
“But it does mean that we must ensure that every pound we invest is well spent. I am determined that this scheme remains affordable – Londoners, business and the taxpayer would expect nothing less.”
Initially scrapped by Conservatives during the 1990s but revived under Labour, the Crossrail scheme will involve the construction of a major West-East rail route across London. When completed in 2017, the 74-mile line will run from Maidenhead in Berkshire to Shenfield in Essex, and will connect Canary Wharf to the West End and Heathrow.