Crossrail, the scheme to build main line rail tunnels under Central London, has edged closer to reality after the City of London Corporation has promised £250m towards the £16bn construction bill.
The new east-west underground train link would improve the transport connections to Heathrow airport, linking Paddington and Liverpool Street stations and providing an alternative to the Central and Piccadilly Underground lines. It is scheduled to open in 2017 and will carry 200m passengers a year.
Although the deal is worth up to £350m, £100m will be in the form of voluntary contributions that have yet to be agreed with the 150 biggest companies in the City. Businesses could be forced to pay the shortfall with an extra increase in business rates if they failed to make voluntary contributions. Larger businesses in London are already facing an extra 2p in the pound on business rates to raise £3.5 billion for Crossrail.
Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, said: “Crossrail is vital to London and the UK, providing an enormous boost to the economy and, in the tough economic times ahead, creating thousands of jobs linked to its construction.
“This is one of the times when you have to invert the normal laws and say ‘get in that hole and keep digging’,” he added
Crossrail will be the biggest construction project in Europe. Between 2013 and 2015, up to 14,000 people will be employed to build it.
The Department for Transport is providing £5.6 billion of the cost and the Greater London Authority has guaranteed £7.7 billion, partly backed by future Crossrail fare income.
Canary Wharf Group and Berkeley Homes will also contribute through the construction of new stations at the Isle of Dogs and Woolwich respectively. Last month, BAA, Heathrow’s owner, agreed a £230 million funding package towards the project.