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Crossrail is a project to build a new east-west railway connection under central London, with one connection to the west and two to the east. It would be built to regional rail standards and might connect to existing main lines. Services would consist of a high frequency metro style service, complementing the existing north-south Thameslink route. It is intended that Crossrail ticketing would be integrated with the other London transport systems, with Travelcards being valid within Greater London. Crossrail has often been compared to Paris's RER system due to the length of the central tunnel, although its scope is rather more limited.
Crossrail Line 1
According to the Bill (see Current Status below) the following is a brief summary of the proposal:
- The preamble to the Bill states that it is for "The provision of a new cross-London rail link ... by way of new railways and improvement of existing railways in existing railway corridors from Maidenhead, Berkshire, and Heathrow to Paddington continuing in new twin tunnels under central London and diverging as two branches, one surfacing at Custom House then passing under the River Thames at Woolwich in twin tunnels and then continuing on the existing North Kent line to Abbey Wood . The other branch would surface at Pudding Mill Lane near Stratford and continue on the existing corridor to Shenfield "
- 'New stations would be built:
- In the central section at Paddington, Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road, Farringdon, Liverpool Street and Whitechapel, offering interchange opportunities with the existing London Underground network lines, Thameslink and Docklands Light Railway.
- On the southern branch at Isle of Dogs. Custom House station to be "reconfigured".
The tunnelled section of the line will be about ten miles in length: a difficult and expensive piece of engineering, because of two factors: London's geology; and the extensive tunnelling that already exists in central London. Its twin circular tunnels will have an internal diameter of 6 m (18 ft), compared with the 3.8m (14.5 ft) diameter of existing deep Tube lines. Unlike the Tube or the existing Thames Valley or North Kent lines, Crossrail trains will use neither third rail nor diesel-electric power, but will use conventional overhead power supplies (catenary) in the open air and a fixed overhead bar contact system in the tunnels.
Over the period of the preliminary discussions, two extensions have been mooted:
- A route from Paddington to Kingston upon Thames via Richmond upon Thames was examined but subsequently dropped, due to a combination of local opposition, uncertainty over the route, cost and an insufficient return on the envisaged investment. This would conceivably have run either overland or via a tunnel to the existing track through Gunnersbury and Kew (which would no longer be used by the District Line), and thence to Richmond and Kingston on existing mainline track.
- a south-eastern extension to Dartford and Northfleet, connecting with the Channel Tunnel Rail Link. This is not planned before 2020, if ever
This east–west route was previously proposed in the early 1990s but was rejected by Parliament in 1994. A number of alternative routes on the west side were considered, including regional services to Amersham and Watford in the north-west, Reading in the west. All have now been dropped in favour of the core proposal.
Crossrail Line 1 has been backed by the Government, which has introduced a hybrid bill for the scheme: the full text may be found here. The Bill is accompanied by an Environmental Impact Statement, plans and other related information; it will not complete its progress in Parliament before the General Election, and is likely to be completed some time in 2006. If Parliament approves the Bill, construction will begin in 2007: it is envisaged that the line will be open by 2013.
Although Crossrail has long had support from London's politicians and business community, it has been held up for a long time due to wrangling over finance. It is currently proposed that the £10 billion cost of the scheme will be met through a combination of public and (mostly) private finance, with London businesses contributing much of the funding.
Crossrail Line 2
Crossrail line 2 would include a new tunnel from Victoria station to Kings Cross railway station via Tottenham Court Road. This route was previously safeguarded for the proposed tube-gauge "Chelsea-Hackney Line " (later renamed "Merton-Hackney" route) and might take over the eastern arm of the Central Line east of Leytonstone.
Many details of Line 2, including the route, stations and especially the finance, are as yet unclear. It is envisaged that it could begin operating by 2016, although this looks somewhat optimistic given the difficulties already encountered with Line 1.
Cross London Rail Links Ltd is the company responsible for creating Crossrail. It is publicly owned as a joint venture of Transport for London and the Strategic Rail Authority, and has £154 million of public funding, but the structure for funding the lines themselves (on the order of £10 billion) has not been finalised. It is hoped that services will begin on line 1 by 2012 and on line 2 in around 2016.
Part of the large expense is due to incorporate a high (and extremely expensive) quality of architecture as specified previously on the Jubilee Line extension. In addition, costs are added to by a reluctance to re-use either the Farringdon to Moorgate section of Thameslink or the disused Moorgate to Liverpool Street mainline station link, thus requiring tunnelling costs for the same route.
This is in addition to the extra infrastructure that sub-surface stations require (escalators at each end of the platform leading to separate exits (because they are so far apart, due to the added distance caused by the escalators, etc.), new station buildings to cope with the escalators (which might also require demolition of some listed buildings located at the likely station entrance locations).
Journalists covering the construction often comment that had it been designed to the same standards as the Victoria Line, it would not only be built and operational already, but would have cost no-more than the public funding it already has.
West of Paddington
- West Drayton
- Hayes and Harlington
- West Ealing
- Ealing Broadway
- Acton Main Line
- Heathrow Central
- Heathrow Terminal 4
- Heathrow Terminal 5
Central section (tunneled)
- Paddington (additional facilities)
- Bond Street (additional facilities)
- Tottenham Court Road (additional facilities)
- Farringdon (additional facilities)
- Liverpool Street (additional facilities)
- Whitechapel (additional facilities)
East of Whitechapel
- Forest Gate
- Manor Park
- Seven Kings
- Chadwell Heath
- Gidea Park
- Harold Wood
Abbey Wood Branch
- Isle of Dogs (new station)
- Custom House (additional facilities)
- Abbey Wood for Thamesmead(existing tracks will need re-alignment)
- Crossrail - official homepage
- Crossrail Bill
- Documents deposited with the Crossrail Bill
- Transport Plans for the London Area - detailed history of Crossrail proposals
- alwaystouchout.com - Detailed information and news about the current proposal
- BBC News Online - Government backs £10bn Crossrail
- BBC News Online - Will Crossrail beat the Tube?
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