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Shadow minister: Crossrail axe a possibility

PUBLISHED: 12:50 22 April 2010 | UPDATED: 17:50 25 August 2010

A £16 BILLION rail link across the capital was put in jeopardy after comments made by a shadow minister, writes Martin Sawden.

A £16 BILLION rail link across the capital was put in jeopardy after comments made by a shadow minister, writes Martin Sawden.

Shadow Minister for London Justine Greening said it was "possible" a Conservative government would scrap the Crossrail scheme in an interview on LBC Radio.

The scheme is seen by supporters as vital to future prosperity, linking Woolwich and Abbey Wood in the east to Heathrow and Maidenhead in the West.

Asked whether the west to east scheme, due for completion in 2017, would continue, under a Conservative government, Ms Greening said: "I can't give a guarantee that it will continue."

When asked if they would scrap it, she said: "It's possible, but at the end of the day we've always said that we think it's an important project and, actually, the reason this is important is that we want to be responsible so we can't pretend that we can write an entire budget outside of government."

Labour parliamentary candidate for Greenwich and Woolwich, MP Nick Raynsford, described the situation as "very serious" and added: "Crossrail will make a huge difference to Woolwich and it would be an utter travesty if this didn't go ahead. This project is vitally important to London and its economy. We had to fight very hard to get the commitment for Woolwich station."

Nearly £1.5 billion has already been spent on the scheme and in March the chairman of Crossrail, Terry Morgan, said the project was pushing ahead.

He said: "It is happening. We are already well under way with this programme. We've got the best part of 3,000 people now employed directly on this programme."

Although preparation work has started, tunnelling for the Crossrail project is not due to begin until October 2011 and there is increasing concern that it could face severe cutbacks or cancellation. Shadow business secretary Ken Clarke has said a go-ahead would not be given by a future Conservative administration until they had taken a good look at the Treasury's books.

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