Crossrail link with Chiswick ruled out

But main scheme looks set to get the green light

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Rt. Hon. Alistair Darling, Secretary of State for Transport:
Department for Transport
Great Minster House
76 Marsham Street, SW1P 4DR

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Transport Secretary, Alistair Darling, has announced the Government's intention to proceed with the £10 billion Crossrail project. It will be the largest infrastucture project ever undertaken in the U.K. However, he has categorically ruled out the plan to extend the line to Richmond which would have involved a major interchange station at Turnham Green.

His statement in parliament acknowledged that the report by Adrian Montague had concluded that the business case for Crossrail had not yet been conclusively made but that the project should proceed on the condition that the private sector made a bigger contribution to its funding.

However the report was lukewarm on Option 5 for Crossrail which would have provided a spur from Paddington to Kingston through Turnham Green. It was stated that this particular proposal had generated more local opposition than any other. Concerns had been expressed about the loss of a District Line service between Richmond and Turnham Green and in the Stamford Brook area many householders were concerned about the possibility of tunnelling under their homes.

Alistair Darling effectively ruled out the Richmond link citing the report. In response to a question from St. Helens MP, David Watts about the cost of the project h e said, "He (Adrian Montague) recommended dropping—we are doing so—the line into Richmond, which will save about £1 billion."

Local MP Clive Soley said in reply "I agree that it is probably right to drop the Richmond link, which was one of the most environmentally damaging sections of the route."

The Strategic Rail Authority had been a particularly strong advocate of extending Crossrail to Richmond and Kingston, in part driven by the aim to relieve congestion at Waterloo. However, Transport for London's priorities were said to place more emphasis on regeneration. Much of the investment in London over the next decade is going to be in the East and South East with the emphasis on projects that will help with the Olympic bid. Crossrail itself is not going to be ready by 2012.

The link to Richmond and Kingston would have cost an additional £890 million but the benefits of the spur were calculated to total £3,528 million giving an incremental benefit-cost ratio of almost 4:1 the highest of any proposed section and double the ratio of that of the benchmark scheme between Paddington and Liverpool Street. Despite this the Montague report questioned its deliverability in practice. As the option was a relatively late addition to the plans it still was in a relatively early stage of assessment.

The proposal to extend the line out to Heathrow was more warmly received by the report with the broad support of the business community making it a relatively attractive option. It will however partly duplicate the service already run by BAA between Paddington and Heathrow.

Alistair Darling made the statement to parliament as it was about to break up for the summer recess. The intention is now to attempt to fast track legislation so that a bill can be presented to parliament as soon as possible.

July 21, 2004