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Crossrail's first tunnel unveiled as Treasury ministers champion infrastructure

Danny Alexander and Lord Deighton attend the unveiling of Crossrail’s first completed train tunnel at Farringdon.

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Deighton and Alexander in Crossrail tunnel at Farringdon

Chief Secretary to the Treasury and Commercial Secretary Lord Deighton became the first visitors to set foot inside the newly completed Crossrail train tunnel at Farringdon today (Tuesday 19 November).

The ministers attended the unveiling of Crossrail’s first completed train tunnel at Farringdon, 18 months after tunnelling machine, ‘Phyllis’ started her 6.8 kilometre journey from Royal Oak.

Both ministers contributed to a time capsule that is to be buried at the site. Danny Alexander added a Crossrail hat to the capsule, while Lord Deighton put in some London 2012 memorabilia. The capsule also includes mementos from the team who worked on the tunnel and a copy of the London A-Z, in honour of Phyllis Pearsall, its creator and namesake of tunnelling machine ‘Phyllis’.

Crossrail is Europe’s largest infrastructure project and one of the government’s top priorities, with the potential to boost the economy by around £42 billion.

The government committed to the project at Spending Round 2010 and it will cost £14.5 billion. It will transform the London transport network, bringing an extra 1.5 million people to within 45 minutes of central London. The station at Farringdon will directly connect with three of London’s five airports, providing a railway connection between Heathrow and Gatwick for the first time.

The project will not just affect Londoners, it is estimated that Crossrail and its supply chain will create at least 75,000 business opportunities and support the equivalent of 55,000 full time jobs right around the country, as 97 per cent of Crossrail’s contractors are based in the UK, 62 per cent of firms winning business are based outside London.

It will also create 400 apprenticeships and train a new generation of engineers so that Britain leads the way in tunnelling and engineering skills.

Chief Secretary, Rt Hon. Danny Alexander said:

This first tunnel is a key milestone in the journey towards a better transport network in London. Crossrail will transform the way people travel, slashing journey times from the City to Heathrow by around 30 minutes and increasing London’s rail capacity by ten per cent. Anyone who travels in London knows Crossrail can’t come soon enough and today shows that the project is on track to open in 2018.

This is just one part of the government’s plan to invest in our future through growth boosting projects. When completed the Crossrail is set to create £42 billion for the UK economy, which means more jobs, better skills and growing businesses across the country.

Commercial Secretary to the Treasury, Lord Deighton said:

Big projects bring big rewards and Crossrail is another excellent example where the UK is delivering on time and on budget to create world leading infrastructure that will drive our economy. The project will create 55,000 new jobs, support thousands of business and produce lasting benefits for the whole country through the supply chain.

With 90 per cent of contracts going to UK firms and 62 percent outside London, it is a model that projects should be looking to follow so that we get the infrastructure the UK needs to compete in the global race.

The first Crossrail services will start through the tunnels in late 2018 – an estimated 200 million annual passengers will use Crossrail. Trains will be able to carry up to 1500 people during the rush hour and will be quicker, greener and more reliable than many of the existing trains on the network.

Published 19 November 2013