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Volume 580: debated on Thursday 8 May 2014

The Crossrail project is progressing well. Over 20 miles of tunnels under London have now been completed, which is 78% of all the tunnelling. While focus is being maintained on delivering the infrastructure, work is now well under way on the operational phases, making Crossrail a fully operational railway. Crossrail is on course to be delivered by the scheduled opening date of December 2018 for the central section, with full services commencing in 2019.

I am grateful to the Government for recently correcting the terrible error of the previous Government, who would have stopped Crossrail at Maidenhead, rather than Reading. The local enterprise partnership and local businesses support my view that unlocking Crossrail’s full potential will require some semi-fast services, rather than the slow metro service currently proposed from Reading into London. Will my right hon. Friend support Thames Valley Berkshire LEP, local businesses and me by doing everything he can to deliver the economic boost that the right Crossrail will bring to Reading and the Thames valley region?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his comments on this massive project, which is important both for London and for the outlying areas. I will be more than happy to discuss it with him as we develop the programme and the timetables.