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First Crossrail tracks laid at Heathrow junction

The first section of tracks to be used by Crossrail trains has been laid on a new bridge in west London.

The 120 metre long Stockley Flyover will be used by Heathrow Express and Heathrow Connect services from next year and is the largest single span bridge to have been installed anywhere on the Great Western railway since the days of Brunel.

It will ensure that services heading towards central London will be able to join the Great Western Main Line without delaying, or being delayed, by other trains using the route.

Crossrail services between London Paddington and Heathrow will begin in 2018. From 2019, the full route will open, allowing passengers to travel from Heathrow to the capital without changing trains. Up to four Crossrail trains an hour will link Heathrow with central London and beyond.

Installing the first section of Crossrail track is a major milestone for the project.

The flyover at Stockley will provide a vital new link between Heathrow and London, significantly improving connections between the airport and the West End, the City and Canary Wharf.

– Matthew White, Surface Director at Crossrail

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River pageant to mark Magna Carta's 800th anniversary

A river pageant on the River Thames has been announced as part of the celebrations to mark the 800th anniversary of the sealing of the Magna Carta next year.

Plans for the spectacular event include a flotilla of boats to sail from Bisham Abbey to Wraysbury in Berkshire.

It will be co-organised by the group responsible for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Pageant in 2012.

One of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee ships on the River Thames in 2012. Credit: ITVMeridian

The charter was sealed on the bank of the River Thames near Windsor in 1215.

The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead said: "The world's eyes will be on us in June next year."

Cancer death rate steadily falling for under 75s

The number of people under the age of 75 who have died from cancer has fallen over the last decade.

According to the Health and Social Care Information Centre, West Oxfordshire and North Dorset had the lowest mortality rate last year.

However cancer remains the top cause of death for older people.

For both men and women aged over 75 the first and second most common forms of cancer leading to death, were cancers of the digestive organs and of the respiratory and intrathoracic organs.

For men the third most common form was cancers of the genital organs and for women it was breast cancer.

Students pay up to £10,000 in rent

Now how much would you be prepared to pay for your son or daughter's university digs? How about ten thousand pounds a year? Providing top quality halls of residence is now being seen as one of the most effective ways to attract students who pay rent of hundreds of pounds a week on top of tuition fees.

In the Meridian region in the last three years alone more than three thousand extra rooms have been created for rent. And it's so lucrative, some private companies are even getting in on the act - one block has just opened in Southampton that charges rent of around £250 a week for its most exclusive student apartments. Our social affairs correspondent Christine Alsford spoke to students at the University of Reading, the university's Vice-Chancellor Sir David Bell, University of Sussex student union representative Mark Segalov and student Shlok Sachar who lives in a Vita Student apartment.

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