A £6BILLION railway planned to link the east and west sides of London could jeopardise revolutionary improvements in rail travel from the Chilterns.

That's the verdict of Chiltern District Council, which has said "thanks, but no thanks" to proposals to include Chesham and Amersham in the Crossrail project.

The authority's cabinet was presented with a report on Tuesday outlining plans by train operator Chiltern Railways for longer trains and an interchange at West Hampstead linking Chesham and Amersham to 200 stations across London and the rest of the country.

But Chiltern Railways will scrap the plans if Crossrail's western route goes through Amersham to Aylesbury, says the report.

Planning chief Gill Gowing said: "Chiltern Railways is well regarded both locally and nationally, and has in hand both short term and longer term proposals to develop its service in ways which would be of benefit to Chiltern.

"These proposals depend upon Crossrail going to Watford rather than Aylesbury."

Crossrail, which was formed by Transport for London (TfL) and the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA), has been tasked with developing two new routes through London.

West of London, the shortlist for routes announced on March 7 include lines to Reading, Watford Junction and a route to Aylesbury, which would go through Amersham and include a link to Chesham. But Chiltern's cabinet heard on Tuesday that Crossrail's 'metro'-style trains would have more doors and considerably less seats than Chiltern Railways trains.

Mrs Gowing added: "There could be significant disadvantages in terms of availability of seating, journey times and impact on the Chesham link when compared with Chiltern Railways and the Metropolitan line services as they currently exist, and how Chiltern Railways will develop in the future provided Crossrail goes to Watford."

A final scheme will be selected for Crossrail line 1 at the end of 2002.

The line is expected to open by 2012.

Crossrail chief executive Norman Haste said: "Input from our stakeholders, particularly the local authorities, will be vital in determining the preferred route and in making the case for the project."

July 22, 2002 11:00