BRITAIN’s Strategic Rail Authority and Transport for London have signed an accord to develop two more cross-London rail links. Transport Minister Lord Macdonald said on May 3 that £150m from the government’s 10-year transport plan has been allocated for ’project definition and design development work’. Both arise from the London East - West Study undertaken by SRA for the Deputy Prime Minister. Completed in December and published on May 3, it confirms that the CrossRail tunnel between Paddington and Liverpool Street still offers the best value for money.

CrossRail was completed to full engineering design when work was suspended in March 1996. However, a high level group consisting of Lord Macdonald, SRA Chairman Sir Alastair Morton and Mayor of London Ken Livingstone decided to subject the scheme to a further 14 months of review. CrossRail is seen as a regional metro linking Shenfield and Tilbury in the east with Slough, Amersham and possibly Heathrow to the west. The central tunnel would run from Old Oak to Bow Junction. The scheme is now costed by TfL at £3·8bn.

The £4·8bn ’southwest to northeast’ line would link Wimbledon and Hackney, interchanging with CrossRail at Tottenham Court Road. A Chelsea - Hackney tube line has featured in LU’s plans since the 1980s, and a route via Victoria and King’s Cross is protected by planning safeguards. The line is now envisaged as a third full-size regional metro, with portals at Raynes Park, Clapham Junction, Finsbury Park and Leyton.

A public inquiry into the Thameslink 2000 project was completed on May 16, and a formal decision on the scheme is expected by the end of 2002.