Crossrail gets approval from Government

New proposals suggest range of options for local Crossrail services

Transport Secretary has given his approval for the ambitious Crossrail project to proceed. The £10 billion link could carry 200,000 people during the morning peak and will make trips between East and West London much more convenient.

There was disappointment however when the Government revealed that it was very unlikely that the project would be ready in time for the Olympics in 2012. With rival bidders such as New York and Paris already with necessary infrastructure in place or in the process of construction, London's poor transport infrastructure seems likely to thwart the bid. Some observers see this as a deliberate snub to the Mayor who has campaigned hard for Crossrail in the hope that it would become a cornerstone of the Olympic bid.

Mayor Ken Livingstone pulled no punches in his reaction claiming it was still possible to build the link before the games saying, "If the Secretary of State got off his arse and pushed the Bill through, we could start some time towards the end of 2004 or 2005, we would have a chance,"

The project is being taken forward by Cross London Rail Links - a joint venture company formed by Transport for London (TfL) and the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA).

Crossrail would require the building of a deep underground tunnel across central London which would dramatically reduce journey times between east and west London. Although Acton Mainline station has been included on the plans for Crossrail there is some concern that when the service is introduced it may not stop at this station. The recently announced service from Paddington to Heathrow funded by BAA which is to be introduced next year will not be serving Acton Mainline. The service which duplicates the route of the Heathrow Express but serves more stations would have provided a fast link for Acton with central London and Heathrow.

Current Option 2 - 5.3m tunnel through Chiswick

Earlier this year this site was the first in the media to publish details of additional plans that the Crossrail board had asked to be drawn up that would create a spur from the main Crossrail line into the South West of London - the so-called �Norbiton Corridor�, which has two options � overground and tunneled. This is a supplementary scheme and is unlikely to form part of the project given initial approval by the Government.

However the confirmation of the main project means that the supplementary schemes suddenly come much closer to realisation. A report prepared by Hounslow Council into the Norbiton options has raised concerns about aspects of this corridor and contributed some additional suggestions as to how the Crossrail network could be developed in this part of London.

The Council is sceptical that Crossrail trains could travel by viaduct across Old Oak Common then overground towards Chiswick via the North London Line. For instance the level crossing at Bollo Lane would be almost permanently closed due to the increased frequency of the trains. The Council�s report resurrects the proposal to construct an interchange station at Chiswick Business Park with funding from the developers, in preference to use of the already overcrowded Gunnersbury Station, but also points to other shortcomings in the overground option including poor interchange with other rail and tube lines and the potential loss of the District line Richmond services.

This leaves the more expensive option of a 5.3km tunnel between Wormwood Scrubs and Chiswick Back Common. The Council is not in favour of a major tunnel portal on the site of the Back Common tennis courts and is even less impressed with the idea of a major worksite for tunnel operations, which could claim up to half the common for several years.

Instead, the Council suggests that the tunnel could be extended to emerge at the back of the Chiswick Business Park at which point the line would join the freight spur that links the North London line and the Hounslow Loop. Under this proposal, Crossrail trains would serve the proposed interchange station at the business park before running through to Hounslow and Feltham instead of Kingston and Norbiton.

The Council�s report also proposes a major interchange at Turnham Green tube station which would allow passengers to transfer between Crossrail and District and Piccadilly line services. A cut-and-cover Crossrail station under Chiswick Back Common would be linked by a walkway to the existing tube platforms.

July 16, 2003

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Hounslow Council report

Council submission to Crossrail

Maps from Council submission