Apr 22 2010 By Michael Russell
Artist impression of a Crossrail train
LABOUR have hit out at the Conservatives for refusing to back Crossrail, the fast rail route linking West and East London expected to bring massive improvements to stations in the borough.
Speaking to LBC Radio presenter Nick Ferrari on April 15, the Conservatives' election co-ordinator for London, Justine Greening, said she could not guarantee the scheme would continue.
Asked whether the Conservatives would scrap Crossrail, she said: "It's possible but at the end of the day we've always said we think it's an important project."
Bassam Mahfouz, Labour parliamentary candidate for Central Ealing and Acton said her words in a radio interview were a worrying development for the scheme which could increase London's transport capacity by ten per cent, create 14,000 jobs in construction and add an estimated £20bn to London's economy.
Set to be completed by 2017 it would also mean renovation and modernisation of three stations in the constituency, Acton Main Line, West Ealing and Ealing Broadway.
Mr Mahfouz said: "I know how important Crossrail is for our stations, for our connections to and beyond central London and for regeneration of this borough and its town centres. That’s why Labour is committed to delivering this vital project.
"What we now know is a vote for Angie Bray and the Conservatives will be a vote to scrap Crossrail and to forget about improvements to our stations for the foreseeable future.”
John Beeston, chairman of the Ealing Passenger Transport Users' Group (EPTUG), was also alarmed by her words. He said: "It's sheer folly not to go ahead and a very expensive mistake. We've already seen hasty decisions of this nature when the Conservative administration cancelled the lifts planned for Greenford and other stations even though work had started.
"If Crossrail is cancelled we would expect councils along the route to press for enhancements, particulary to improve disabled access, which have been deferred because of plans for Crossrail, and for some solution to the overcrowding in services into Paddington."
But the Conservatives say the shadow London minister was just being candid about a review which will have to be carried out no matter who will be in power.
Central Ealing and Acton parliamentary candidate Angie Bray said Crossrail is as safe with the Conservatives as with any other party and Ms Greening's comments do not mean their support for the scheme has been downgraded.
She said: "Our support for Crossrail is a manifesto pledge and nothing has changed. All Justine was doing was answering a question about a review. The Labour Party cancelled a comprehensive review due to happen last summer, these happen every three years and look at everything on the table. Whoever is in power after the election they will have to hold one.
"Crossrail will have to be on it, but then so will Trident and I don't think anybody believes the Conservatives would axe Trident."