The £15.9 billion Crossrail project which will directly link Heathrow with the City and Canary Wharf has been given the go ahead.
The project, which has been in the pipeline for 20 years, received Royal Assent yesterday and work will begin in 2010. The line is expected to be operational by 2017.
Not only will the 118.5km-long line, which is forecast to carry 200 million passengers a year, increase capacity on London’s public transport system but it will also aid business travellers by cutting a third of the time currently taken to travel between Heathrow and Canary Wharf.
The line will start out west in Maidenhead, passing through stations including Paddington, Tottenham Court Road and Liverpool Street, before heading out east to Shenfield in Essex and Abbey Wood in Greenwich.
Cross London Rail Links executive chairman Douglas Oakervee said: “Royal Assent is the most significant milestone in the history of Crossrail. After years of planning and discussion, we are ready to move into the delivery phase of a project that will benefit London, the south east region and the UK as a whole.
“This will be a project for the whole community – a new world class affordable railway that London expects and deserves.”
Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly said: ‘This landmark project is of major significance to both London and the whole country. It will generate jobs and economic growth, help re-vitalise some of our most deprived areas and deliver major improvements for the travelling public.
Mayor of London, Boris Johnson said: “I am absolutely thrilled that work can now begin on one of the largest projects ever seen in the capital, a project that is vital to the future prosperity of our city and a project that has the potential to improve the lives of many thousands of Londoners.
“Crossrail will shorten journey times for Londoners and visitors to our city whether they are heading for the bright lights of the west end or the citadels of commerce at Canary Wharf.”