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London's £14.8bn Crossrail scheme could be extended

by Simon Harris: Political Correspondent

The government is considering a major extension to Crossrail to cut journey times for commuters from Hertfordshire.

Crossrail worker Sam Agyeman, inspects the first completed section of Crossrail tunnel
Crossrail worker Sam Agyeman, inspects the first completed section of Crossrail tunnel Credit: PA

Trains from Tring, Hemel Hempstead and Watford would be diverted on to the new £15bn high speed commuter line due to open in 2019.

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Victorian rail tunnel to be reused as part of Crossrail

A Victorian train tunnel that was left derelict has been given a new lease of life as part of Crossrail. The tunnel was built in 1878 and has not been in passenger use since 2006.

Work was required to deepen, strengthen and widen the structure and to remove 135 years of coal and soot from the bricks from the steam trains that originally used the tracks. Last summer, 13 million litres of water were drained from the dock that runs above the tunnel to allow Crossrail workers to access the structure from above.

The rail tunnel originally served the Royal Docks when they formed the largest enclosed docks in the world, serving large ships from all over the globe. It survived a hit from a bomb during WW2 and is the only existing tunnel that will be re-used for Crossrail.

Crossrail project at 'considerable risk' of being delayed

Crossrail workers in one of the scheme's tunnels beneath Whitechapel station
A group of MPs says the project is at 'considerable risk' of being delayed Credit: Reuters

There are still 'considerable risks' in delivering the Crossrail project on time, according to a group of MPs.

In a report into the progress of the scheme, the Public Accounts Committee said the one of the issues facing the project is the government's failure to secure enough support from London businesses. They group said the government had not adequately explained the scheme's potential benefits, leading to them securing less funding than hoped and potentially delaying the project beyond its 2019 deadline.

However, the Committee agreed the project was on budget and would provide good value for money for the taxpayer.

Crossrail to help create 'up to 30,000 additional jobs'

This is great news for passengers across the capital and marks a significant milestone in the project.

Crossrail will provide a better and faster service for millions of commuters and will help create up to 30,000 additional jobs in central London by 2026.

Crossrail is a part of our long-term economic plan and one of the many rail infrastructure projects benefitting from record levels of Government investment.

Together with Thameslink, investment in rail in the North and a major electrification programme, we are creating jobs, boosting business and generating lasting economic growth across the UK.

– Patrick McLoughlin, Transport Secretary

Crossrail company to employ around 1,100 staff

  • Transport for London said MTR was expected to employ around 1,100 staff with up to 850 new roles, creating many hundreds of jobs for local people.
  • This will include some 400 drivers and more than 50 apprenticeships for people from communities along the route.
  • It is estimated that Crossrail will also support the equivalent of 55,000 full-time jobs around the UK.

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Contract to run Crossrail services goes to Hong Kong company

The £1.4 billion contract to run the Crossrail services has gone to Hong Kong-based MTR Corporation.

Computer generated image of how a Crossrail train may look
Computer generated image of how a Crossrail train may look Credit: PA

MTR beat the likes of National Express and Arriva to win the concession, which will be for eight years with an option to extend to 10 years.

Timelapse of Crossrail's new stations in central London

The construction of Crossrail’s new stations in central London and Docklands is now half complete, with almost three miles of platform and station tunnels created beneath the streets of the capital.

New stations at Paddington, Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road, Farringdon, Liverpool Street, Whitechapel, Canary Wharf, Custom House and Woolwich are being built. From 2018, the stations in central London will be served by 24 trains an hour in each direction at peak times.

It's slow work, but here's what it looks like sped up.

Chancellor unveils new Crossrail tunnel

Chancellor George Osborne talks to apprentices during a visit to a Crossrail construction site at North Woolwich Credit: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

The new Crossrail Thames tunnel was unveiled by the Chancellor George Osborne today. It runs for nearly two miles between Plumstead and North Woolwich, and took more than two years to build.

Crossrail chairman Terry Morgan said: "Crossrail will help to transform this part of London, boosting the local economy, creating new transport links, reducing congestion on existing rail services and supporting wider regeneration.

"We have now completed over 21 miles of new rail tunnels beneath the streets of the capital and are more than half way through the project."

Credit: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

The Crossrail route will run through the heart of London, and is due to open in 2018.

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