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BLAIR AND BROWN AT ODDS OVER VITAL LONDON RAIL LINK

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A row has broken out at the heart of government over a proposed£1bn rail project for London, according to The Busi...
A row has broken out at the heart of government over a proposed £1bn rail project for London, according to The Business (p2). Tony Blair and chancellor Gordon Brown are said to be at loggerheads over the east London rail link, pivotal to the success of the Crossrail project to build a mainline connection from east to west across the capital.

The Treasury is due to decide by the turn of the year whether to fund the east London link, despite promises in Labour's general election manifesto and favourable cost-benefit analyses of the project. Treasury officials have been dismayed to see costs go out of control on several flagship rail projects, notably the West Coast mainline upgrade.

'Crossrail is doomed without the east London line although it has (Labour) manifesto support', said an industry source. 'It will be very hard to feed enough passengers into the Crossrail line without it'. The east London link, which has the backing of the Strategic Rail Authority and transport secretary Alistair Darling, would carry 15,000 passengers a day in the three-hour peak time.

The source said the outcome would give a clear signal about where the government stands on rail. 'It's purely down to the Treasury now. This is all a case of politics versus economics'.

The east London rail link is expected to yield £10bn in economic regeneration. It is as important to the rundown Thames gateway as Docklands Light Railway was to Docklands.
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