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A new Crossrail 2 scheme would be essential to keep London moving, a group of business leaders said today.

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The £12 billion project would connect south-west and north-east London via a tunnel beneath the capital and be ready by the 2030s.

It would run alongside the existing Crossrail project already in construction and which will be operational around 2018.

It is proposed to include a new rail line including areas as Wimbledon, Kingston, Twickenham, Hackney, Islington, Tottenham, Cheshunt and Hertford East.

It would also link with major London interchanges including Euston, Victoria and Clapham Junction, and reduce pressure on congested Tube lines. In some cases, journey times would be more than halved.

The opening date of the early 2030s, with construction beginning in the 2020s, would be dependent on the necessary planning and consultation beginning now, said London First - the business organisation putting forward the plan today.

London First, whose task force has been chaired by former transport secretary Lord Adonis, said that without Crossrail 2, at least £6 billion would need to be spent on incremental improvements to existing Tube and rail infrastructure, “offering a fraction of the benefits while still leaving London congested”.

He added that Crossrail 2 was “essential to keep London moving as its population rises by another 1.5 million over the next 20 years and the number of rail journeys into London termini increase dramatically.”

London First chief executive Jo Valentine said: “The UK faces a stark choice, go on investing in London’s transport to keep pace with population and jobs growth - or stifle London’s future success with bottlenecks.

“And we have to make the decision now. We cannot afford the decades of indecision that delayed getting started on Crossrail 1.”

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