On Friday (13 June 2014), 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 2 miles and took 2 and a half years to complete. It will help to significantly improve connections between south-east 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.
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.
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.
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.