£875 million EU loan boost for London's Crossrail

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The Independent Online

London's Crossrail project - currently the largest construction scheme in Europe - has been given an £875 million loan from the European Investment Bank.

The EIB, the EU's own long-term lending arm which backs major public projects benefiting the European economy, described the ambitious rail network expansion as a boost for London as a "world city".

EIB vice-president Simon Brooks said the granting of the loan gave international recognition to the Crossrail plan, due for completion in 2017.

The aim is a 10 per cent increase in London's rail capacity, connecting business districts of the Docklands, the City and the West End with the outer suburbs.

Construction work started four months ago at Canary Wharf and the entire plan will employ 14,000 people at its peak.

Mr Brooks said: "By providing a much-needed boost to rail capacity in London and the South East, Crossrail will help to develop London as a sustainable world city by reducing congestion and pollution for the benefit of Londoners, commuters and visitors.

"It will also link London more efficiently into the European and global transport networks. We at the EIB are delighted to support the project with this loan."

London Mayor Boris Johnson said of the one billion-euro loan: "Our good friends at the EIB have provided us with a billion more reasons to proceed with the unstoppable force that is Crossrail.

"It is one of the largest loans ever secured for a transport project and I am especially pleased to have this backing for our drive to provide London with the facilities required to keep the capital one of the world's leading cities."

The EIB, which is owned by the 27 EU countries, has awarded the loan to Transport for London(TfL) for use over the next six years.

The EIB has existing loan agreements with TfL for the East London line extension, and for part of the Docklands Light Railway three-car capacity upgrade and Stratford International extension.