A cross-party coalition of MPs and Council Leaders have come together to call for the extension of the Crossrail (Elizabeth line) to Ebbsfleet, completing the missing link in the railway line, and unlocking huge growth and housing potential in the South East. The MPs and Council Leaders, pictured above, presented a Budget submission to Treasury, DfT and MHCLG this morning, calling for a modest £25 million funding before the end of the year to take forward the extension process.
The submission from the campaign was received by Rail Minister, Jo Johnson, and MP for Orpington.
The Thames Gateway in Kent is a crucial part of Crossrail and was included in the original project design (and the route is still safeguarded), but was removed in 2008, creating 10 miles of missed opportunity. Now, with the economy in stronger place, MPs are sending the message to Government that the time is right to back the final link of the Elizabeth line and unlock significant housing growth where it is needed most. Backing the extension now will give critical confidence to take the scheme forward, enable business to invest and secure the economic growth and housing expansion.
It will also demonstrate the Government’s commitment to supporting economic growth in the Thames Estuary, following the completion of the flagship Thames Estuary Commission in June – which called on Government to provide the funding needed to take the scheme forward.
Sir David Evennett, Conservative MP for Bexleyheath and Crayford, said: ‘This is a crucial opportunity for the Government to create a boom of new jobs, opportunities and homes in an area that needs investment to unlock its full potential.
‘We came together today and presented our submission to the Treasury and DfT in person, because we wanted to demonstrate how passionate, determined and united our strength of feeling is in favour of this investment. We must commit to this vital extension, which will join up our transport network and bring Kent and South East London properly into the fold.’
The extension would support often-overlooked areas, such as Gravesham and Dartford, with high levels of social and economic need. Providing a simple, fast connection into Canary Wharf and the centre of London, as well as connecting the Elizabeth line with the HS1 rail line at Ebbsfleet, would create a more joined up railway and hugely improve economic prospects for the area.
The Thames Estuary Commission, established by Government, has backed the extension as a much needed, deliverable and transformative scheme, as have businesses and organisations including London City Airport, London Chamber of Commerce, HS1 Ltd and the South East Local Enterprise Partnership. The scheme would enable hugely better connections for London City Airport as well as enable better links from South East London and Kent to Heathrow.
Following the Budget, a further Government response to the Thames Estuary Commission report on the proposals is expected before the end of the year.