The UK Government has been urged to make delivering Crossrail 2 a priority by South East business leaders.
More than 70 senior figures have written a letter to Chancellor Philip Hammond and Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, calling for the rapid progress to be made towards building the proposed rail route.
In the letter, leaders claim the multi-billion pound development is "an infrastructure project of national importance", highlighting the fact it is forecasted the railway will boost the economy by up to £150 billion.
In addition, the scheme is expected to help generate 200,000 new jobs and 200,000 new homes, as well as supporting the UK’s engineering, construction and manufacturing sectors.
The letter states: "Crossrail 2 will make a difference to the whole country. Forty per cent of transport benefits will be outside London. Thirty per cent of the housing will be outside of London. Sixty thousand supply chain jobs and apprenticeships will be created across the UK. It will grow the national economy by up to £150 billion. London is already committed to meeting half the cost.
"This will ease overcrowding on key rail lines from Portsmouth to Cambridge and will link with High Speed 2 (HS2) at Euston. This will transform journey times and connectivity from the Solent to the Wash, supporting 200,000 new homes and 200,000 jobs.
"We need to get people to work. Now is the moment for Government to find the Parliamentary time and show the world UK is open for business post Brexit."
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said the letter "is yet more evidence" of how important Crossrail 2 is to the UK.
"Business leaders know it will bring hundreds of thousands of jobs and housing, and transport benefits right across the South East, as well as boosting the economy in all corners of the country," he said.
"Despite the project benefiting the whole of the UK, London has actually met half the funding cost. What we now need is for the Government to take note of these benefits and give us the green light to progress, for the good of the entire country."
Signatories of the letter include; Richard Robinson, Chief Executive of AECOM, Ray O'Rourke, Chief Executive of Laing O'Rourke, Julian Gatward, Managing Director at Taylor Woodrow, David Whittleton, Deputy Chairman of Arup Group and Alasdair Reisner, Chief Executive of the Civil Engineering Contractors Association.
Transport for London has submitted an updated business case and funding plan to the Transport Secretary, who is due to make a decision in the spring on further Government support.
If approved, construction could start in the early 2020s, with rail operations to begin by 2033
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