Ministers announce a £350m bail-out for the controversial Crossrail programme

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The controversial Crossrail project has been handed a £350million bail-out by the Government, ministers today announced.

The troubled project – which has been beset by delays and rising costs – was given the cash in the form of a loan to London’s City Hall.

Transport Minister Jo Johnson said the cash will help inject some ‘momentum’ into the project.

The announcement comes just two months after transport bosses revealed that opening of Crossrail’s Elizabeth Line would be delayed by nine months.

The move infuriated passengers and businesses who had expected the line to open this December – dramatically cutting journey times into the capital.    

A Whitehall source angrily blamed the Labour administration in City Hall for the surprise bill.

The source told MailOnline: ‘This government has had to dig deep to save the Crossrail project thanks to the mismanagement of money under Labour. 

‘If this can happen under Sadiq Khan, who is a moderate compared to other Labour members, then we dread to think what could happen under a Corbyn government.

‘We’ve even had to ensure there’s an independent review into Crossrail’s business practices to keep the project on track.’  

Announcing the new money today, Mr Johnson said that ministers have been in talks with Transport for London (TfL) – which owns the Crossrail project.

He said: ‘Discussions between TfL and government are underway as to how any additional funding will be provided, with London – as the primary beneficiary of Crossrail – bearing any additional costs via a financing arrangement.

‘TfL and the Department for Transport have commissioned an independent review of Crossrail’s governance and a separate review on Crossrail’s finance and commercial position.

‘Today, as an interim measure, we are announcing that £350 million of short term repayable financing will be made available to the Mayor for the year 2018/19. 

‘This will ensure that full momentum is maintained behind Crossrail.’

The minister also rushed to defend the controversial project, which will create a new West to East railway line from  Reading through London and tout to Shenfield.

He insisted that when it opens it will ‘transform’ the transport system. 

Mr Johnson said that it will allow up to 200 million passengers a year, and help boost Britain economy by a staggering £42 billion.

But the massive infrastructure project has seen costs rise from £14.8bn to £15.4bn.

Business leaders and passengers erupted in fury when they heard, at the end of August, that the project would be delayed.   

Jace Tyrrell, the chief executive of the New West End Company – a group that represents hundreds of businesses in London – said the decision would put greater pressure on retailers.

He said: ‘We are disappointed that the opening of this major and vital piece of infrastructure is being delayed’.       

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