By Richard High16 February 2010
Crossrail is Europe's largest construction project.
It will run 118 km from Maidenhead and Heathrow in the west, through new twin-bore 21 km-long tunnels under central London to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east. It will bring an additional 1.5 million people within 60 minutes commuting distance of London's key business districts.
When Crossrail opens in 2017 it will increase London's rail-based transport network capacity by +10%, supporting regeneration across the capital, helping to secure London's position as a world leading financial centre, and cutting journey times across the city.
Crossrail will deliver substantial economic benefits for all of London and the South East after the new railway opens in 2017. A study published in February 2009 assessed the key benefits including faster journey times, reduced and public transport congestions, improved productivity and higher earnings.
When the results are modelled for just one year - 2026 - the annual economic benefit across all of London's boroughs is estimated at UK£ 1.24 billion (€ 1.43 billion) at 2008 prices.
Up to 14000 people will be employed at the peak of construction in 2013/2015, with an estimated further 7000 jobs created indirectly.
Preparatory works took place throughout 2009. The main construction programming starts in 2010 with tunnelling starting in 2011. Crossrail is scheduled to open for service in 2017.
Once complete in 2017, new 10-carriage trains carrying at least 1500 passengers will travel through the 21 km long tunnels, reducing journey times between Heathrow, the West End, the City and Canary Wharf and providing new journey opportunities and much needed additional transport capacity.
Crossrail is promoted by Crossrail Limited (CRL). CRL is a wholly owned subsidiary of Transport for London (TfL). Crossrail is jointly sponsored by Department for Transport and Transport for London.