George Osborne unveils Crossrail Thames Tunnel in North Woolwich
PUBLISHED: 17:46 13 June 2014 | UPDATED: 17:56 13 June 2014
George Osborne unveiled a new Crossrail tunnel under the River Thames today at the Crossrail site in North Woolwich.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer said he hopes the two mile Thames Tunnel, as part of the £14.8bn Crossrail project, will provide jobs and housing for people in Newham and east London when it opens in 2018.
Mr Osborne took a small metal rail car into the tunnel, which is 15 metres below the river, and later congratulated Crossrail workers and staff on delivering the tunnel on time and in budget
He said: “You follow in the footsteps of Isambard Kingdom Brunel who built the first tunnel under the River Thames.
“I remember as finance minister sitting in my office signing off on this massive Crossrail project.
“For me to come here and actually see it is just fantastic.”
The Thames Tunnel was built using diggers named Mary and Sophia, which are soon to be retired.
A spokesman for Crossrail said there has been planning applications within a kilometre of Woolwich Crossrail station for 4,286 new homes, over 70,000 square feet of new office space, and 114,000 square feet of new retail space.
He said Crossrail will also develop nearly 500,000 sq ft of residential development above the new station.
Speaking to the Recorder, George Osborne said Crossrail’s likely boost to property prices should not “price out” local residents, thanks to the new housing being built near the rail sites.
He said: “The answer to the raising property prices is to build more homes.
“I’ve been speaking to the Mayor of London about this today, and part of what we want to do is give local authorities and developers the power to build and create the housing people need.
“And I think it’s important to provide a good mix of housing, from both social housing to rented housing and homes to buy.”
The Chancellor also said Crossrail will create more jobs in the area, saying: “What I want to see is businesses move into the area and they create jobs for local people.”
Terry Morgan, Crossrail Chairman said: “We have now completed over 21 miles of new rail tunnels beneath the streets of the capital and are more than half way through the project.”
“It’s a great example of British engineering at its very best.”