The UK government will give another £825m ($1.1bn) to troubled Crossrail so that work on London’s upcoming Elizabeth Line “can continue at pace” and be completed by the first half of 2022. The government had already provided a £2.2bn aid package for the project in 2018.
The news comes after London’s transport chief warned the government last month that the £19bn project faces being “mothballed” if ministers do not agree to urgent funding to keep the rail link going.
The line runs east to west connecting London's Canary Wharf with Heathrow Airport
“The Mayor of London, Transport for London (TfL), the Department for Transport (DfT) and HM Treasury have confirmed an agreed funding and financing package for the final phase of the Crossrail project,” TfL said in a statement.
Crossrail had said in August it would require funding “beyond the agreed funding envelope,” the statement said.
“Crossrail is continuing to work hard to reduce its funding shortfall, and TfL is ensuring that further independent analysis of costs is carried out,” it added.
The shortfall will initially be covered by the Greater London Authority borrowing up to £825m from the DfT, which will be given to TfL as a grant.
Secretary of state for transport, Grant Shapps, said on Twitter that the loan “is a fair deal for taxpayers across the UK, helping TfL get the project up and running.”
Meanwhile London mayor, Sadiq Khan, said: “The government have insisted London must pay the shortfall – despite the overwhelming majority of the tax income that will result from Crossrail going to the Treasury. This is another example of London supporting the country way over and above the help we get from this government.”
“I do not want this project to be stalled so it is vital that we dig deep to get the railway up and running,”
The CEO of Crossrail, Mark Wild said delivery of the Elizabeth line is now in its “complex final stages. Good progress continues to be made with completing the remaining infrastructure works so that we begin intensive operational testing, known as Trial Running, at the earliest opportunity in 2021.”
When fully open, the Elizabeth line will increase central London's rail capacity by 10%, TfL said, and will be able to carry more than half a million passengers per day.
The railway is expected to support thousands of new homes and new jobs and will boost the UK economy by £42bn, it added.
The 188km underground rail project has faced ongoing delays and is more than three years late. Once eventually open it will link the north and south parts of the city with areas in Berkshire, Hertfordshire and Surrey.
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