Major gives go-ahead for Crossrail

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The Independent Online
THE GO-AHEAD for the pounds 1.8bn Crossrail project was approved in principle yesterday by a Cabinet committee chaired by the Prime Minister, in spite of Treasury opposition, writes Colin Brown.

John Major announced in his speech to the CBI dinner that the Bill to put the Crossrail project into effect would be introduced next month. However, Downing Street sources said that details had yet to be agreed.

Unless the Bill was given a Second Reading soon, it could have been delayed for five years - in effect killed off. However, there is still a battle over the financing of the joint public and private sector scheme to build a six-mile east- west tunnel across London, linking the Paddington Station to Liverpool Street Station.

It is understood the Treasury is fighting a rearguard action to reduce the taxpayers' contribution towards the scheme. The City was reluctant to commit money without a statutory commitment that it would be carried out.

Its approval marks a victory for John MacGregor, the Secretary of State for Transport, who warned colleagues that it would be an opportunity not to be missed to link Heathrow by rail to the Channel tunnel routes to France.

Further ministerial meetings will be needed before the formal announcement of the project's final cost.