On 20 July UK Transport Secretary, Alistair Darling launched his “Future of Transport White Paper” saying: “We intend to introduce a hybrid bill at the earliest opportunity to take the powers necessary for Crossrail to be built.”

At the same time as unveiling his vision of a sustainable transport system for the UK, he published the findings of the panel directed in September 2003 to evaluate the business case for the east-west cross-London underground Crossrail project (available at www.dft.gov.uk/railways/crossrail ). Darling said: “The report makes clear Crossrail is needed, but that at a cost of £10bn it represents a huge challenge to both deliver and fund.” Plans for the scheme indicate 24kms of 6m internal diameter tunnels under the city.

Speaking to Parliament, Darling said the case for Crossrail was already clear and would get stronger as London continued to grow, adding that the plans needed to be robust and value for money and “cost control will be essential”.

Last week, on 15 July, Darling revealed his rail industry review and intention to disband the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) resulting in more local decision making for rail services. The SRA had been tasked with the delivery of the East London Line Project and the responsibility for the project now falls largely to the Mayor of London.

By 20 July, the mayor, Ken Kivingstone, announced that he would deliver phase one of the project using “prudential borrowing arrangements that have been agreed by the government” said a spokesman for the scheme. Phase one will provide extended north-south services and could be delivered by 2010, which is felt to be in good time for any successful London Olympic hosting bid.