Published: 10:51, 11 October 2018
| Updated: 11:23, 11 October 2018
Politicians have united to call for an extension of Crossrail to Ebbsfleet, a move they say could unlock land for 55,000 new homes and create 50,000 new jobs.
Kent is the only one of the Home Counties not served by Crossrail 1 or 2 and the cross-party coalition says a £25 million investment before the end of the year would allow them to forge forward with the extension plans and plug a "missing link in the railway line".
MPs and council leaders from across the area say the route, which was originally included in the original design for the Thames Gateway but was removed in 2008, is currently "10 miles of missed opportunity".
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Crossrail, known as the Elizabeth Line, would link Ebbsfleet to Canary Wharf if extended.
At present, its planned to stop furthest east at Abbey Wood in south east London.
This morning the group presented the budget submission to the Treasury, Department for Transport and Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government this morning.
It was received by rail minister and MP for Orpington, Jo Johnson.
The coalition hopes with the economy growing in strength the time is now right to back the extension and "unlock significant housing growth where it is needed most".
A spokesman said: "Backing the extension now will give critical confidence to take the scheme forward, enable business to invest and secure economic growth and housing expansion.
"It will also demonstrate the government’s commitment to supporting economic growth in the Thames Estuary, following the completion of the flagship Thames Estuary Commission in June – which called on Government to provide the funding needed to take the scheme forward.
"The extension would support often-overlooked areas, such as Gravesham and Dartford, with high levels of social and economic need. Providing a simple, fast connection into Canary Wharf and the centre of London, as well as connecting the Elizabeth line with the HS1 rail line at Ebbsfleet, would create a more joined up railway and hugely improve economic prospects for the area."
The Thames Estuary Commission, established by the government, previously backed the extension, as have businesses and organisations including
London City Airport, London Chamber of Commerce, HS1 Ltd and the South East Local Enterprise Partnership.
The scheme would enable far better connections from London City Airport, south east London and Kent to Heathrow.
Sir David Evennett, Conservative MP for Bexleyheath and Crayford, said: “This is a crucial opportunity for the Government to create a boom of new jobs, opportunities and homes in an area that needs investment to unlock its full potential.
"We came together today and presented our submission to the Treasury and DfT in person, because we wanted to demonstrate how passionate, determined and united our strength of feeling is in favour of this investment. We must commit to this vital extension, which will join up our transport network and bring Kent and south east London properly into the fold.”
Following the budget on Monday, October 29, a further government response to the Thames Estuary Commission report on the proposals is expected before the end of the year.