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Chancellor unveils Crossrail’s new tunnels under the Thames

By Hamish McDougall

Chancellor unveils Crossrail’s new tunnels under the Thames
  • Latest Crossrail tunnel will slash journey times from South East London, increasing access to employment for local people and supporting the construction of new housing

On Friday, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Rt. Hon. George Osborne MP, unveiled London's newest tunnel under the River Thames.

The ‘Thames Tunnel’, part of the £14.8bn Crossrail project, stretches for almost two miles and will help to significantly improve connections between southeast London and the rest of the capital when it opens in 2018. As a result of the new link, journeys times will be cut by up to half from Abbey Wood to Canary Wharf, Bond Street and Liverpool Street.

The Chancellor was joined 15 metres below ground under the river Thames at North Woolwich by Crossrail Chairman Terry Morgan and Crossrail apprentices who have worked on the tunnels.

Speaking from the site the Chancellor said: “As part of our long term economic plan we are investing in infrastructure around the country to create a more balanced, resilient economy.

“Crossrail is not only providing extra speed and capacity for London’s passengers, but also supporting new housing, jobs and businesses."

Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “London is the engine room of the UK and projects such as Crossrail are helping to drive our country’s economy in the right direction. Completion of The Thames Tunnel is yet another important chapter in the Crossrail story - a tale that perfectly highlights how investing in major transport schemes can trigger development and unlock the potential for thousands of new jobs and homes.”

Since 2008 there have been planning applications within a kilometre of Woolwich Crossrail station for 4,286 new homes, over 70,000 square feet of new office space and 114,000 square feet of new retail space.

Crossrail will also develop almost 500,000 square feet of residential development above the new station. Berkeley Homes is currently constructing 631 new homes above Woolwich Crossrail station, of which 265 (42%) will be affordable.

It is estimated that Crossrail will generate at least 75,000 business opportunities and support the equivalent of 55,000 full time jobs around the UK. Three out of five businesses currently winning work on the project are based outside London and over half (58%) are small and medium sized enterprises.

In January, the Crossrail project reached the half-way point in construction on time and on budget.

Rail minister Stephen Hammond said: “Crossrail will transform travel for millions of passengers across London and help regenerate communities along the route. The planned Woolwich station is already delivering on that promise and is transforming the southeast of London, attracting investment from businesses and developers, and supporting our plans for long-term economic growth. This is a major milestone in the Crossrail project and demonstrates that our plans to build a world-class railway are firmly on track.”

Terry Morgan, Crossrail Chairman said: “Crossrail will help to transform this part of London, boosting the local economy, creating new transport links, reducing congestion on existing rail services and supporting wider regeneration. We have now completed over 21 miles of new rail tunnels beneath the streets of the capital and are more than half way through the project.”

Mike Brown MVO, Managing Director London Underground and Rail said: “The completion of this tunnel under the Thames marks another key milestone in the construction of Crossrail which when it opens will boost rail capacity in the capital by 10 per cent. Cities are the engine of the UK’s growth and continued investment in infrastructure improvements is vital to create jobs and stimulate growth across the UK.”

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For further information contact the Crossrail Press Office on 020 3229 9552 or email [email protected]

Notes To Editors

  1. The two tunnelling machines which completed the Thames Tunnel are named after the wives of Isambard and Marc Brunel who constructed London’s first Thames Tunnel over 150 years ago. ‘Mary’ and ‘Sophia’ have between them excavated around 500,000 tonnes of earth on their journey from Plumstead to North Woolwich and installed 3,400 concrete rings lining the new tunnels. The job of fitting out the tunnel with tracks and communications systems will begin shortly.
  2. Across the route the new rail tunnels are over 80% complete. Construction is also progressing on the ten new Crossrail stations and on works above ground west of Paddington and east of Stratford. The project is at peak construction, with more than 10,000 people currently working on Crossrail.
  3. The total funding envelope available to deliver Crossrail is £14.8bn. Over 60% of Crossrail’s costs are funded by Londoners and London businesses.
  4. The Crossrail route will serve 40 stations and run more than 100km from Reading and Heathrow in the west, through new twin-bore 21 km (13 miles) tunnels to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the East.
  5. Crossrail is being delivered by Crossrail Limited (CRL). CRL is a wholly owned subsidiary of Transport for London. Crossrail is jointly sponsored by the Department for Transport and Transport for London.
  6. Crossrail is part of TfL’s investment programme. In addition to Crossrail, the Mayor and TfL are investing to deliver the modernisation of London Underground, major investment in the capital’s road network and the Mayor’s cycling vision and further improvements to the Bus, London Overground and Tramlink networks. In addition to Crossrail, 63,000 jobs are created around the country annually through TfL's investment programme.
  7. Crossrail is vital part of the government’s rail investment programme and the government’s economic plan. The investment in Crossrail, Thameslink, the Northern Hub, and the electrification of the network will help generate growth, create jobs and boost business while delivering faster journeys, greater comfort and better punctuality for passengers across the UK.