City threatens Darling on plan to shorten Crossrail

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The Independent Online

The City has warned that it will refuse to fund Crossrail - the proposed £10bn railway line linking east and west London - unless it includes a link to Heathrow Airport.

The City has warned that it will refuse to fund Crossrail - the proposed £10bn railway line linking east and west London - unless it includes a link to Heathrow Airport.

The Secretary of State for Transport, Alistair Darling, is due to approve the scheme in the next few weeks. But it is understood that he may shorten the route to control costs.

The news has angered the Corporation of London. It says the full scheme, from Heathrow to Bank and then to Stratford and Canary Wharf, is vital to safeguard the City's status as Europe's financial capital.

Michael Snyder, the chairman of the Corporation's policy and resources committee, said: "It is vitally important that Crossrail links it to the major transport hubs - Heathrow for the airport and Stratford for Eurostar. If Crossrail doesn't connect to Heathrow then business won't contribute anything."

Under the plans being considered by Mr Darling, Crossrail would be partly funded by London businesses though a 1-2 per cent increase in rates.

The Crossrail proposals were drawn up by Adrian Montague, the Government troubleshooter. It is understood that on Friday Mr Snyder wrote to Mr Montague pressing the case for Crossrail to run to Heathrow.

Crossrail would cost £10bn to build in full, but the Government is understood to be keen to reduce that figure. The Corporation of London says the scheme could be built for £4bn.

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