Appeal to use canal to transport Crossrail tunnels

Plans to use 30,000 heavy goods lorries to transport Crossrail tunnel segments down Harrow Road have been rubbished by those in charge of the Grand Union Canal.

Bosses of the proposed east-to-west rail link have applied to use thousands of large articulated lorries over the next 14 months.

Fears have been raised by local councillors about the safety implications of such a move and now a number of waterways bodies have criticised Crossrail for failing to use the canal instead of blocking the roads.

In a planning report to Westminster Council, the London Waterways Commission said: “Crossrail threatens severe congestion in west London that can easily be averted using the canal.

“This is an opportunity for using water transport. However, without proper consideration and based on inaccurate reports, the contractor has dismissed this option as being unviable.”

The commission claims transporting the tunnel segments by canal is “perfectly feasible”.

British Waterways says the canal is a “serious option for moving bulk materials” and Crossrail has been informed that it is “a viable option”.

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This opinion is supported by the Inland Waterways Association which says it is “concerned about the way in which the option for the use of waterborne transport is dismissed”.

It says the proposed lorry routes are “already congested” and using the canal would save residents from “a substantial number of additional and unwanted lorry movements”.

The tunnel segments are to be transported to Crossrail’s Westbourne Park site on Great Western Road.

London Assembly member Murad Qureshi said he was always worried that the canal option had been dismissed too quickly.

He said: “The lorry option is clearly the cheapest but it is to the detriment of the local community.”

However, a Crossrail spokesman said the canal option had been investigated but is “not practically possible”. She added: “Crossrail is removing all excavated material from its western tunnels by rail and river meaning that at least 50,000 lorry journeys will not be needed.”

“There is not enough rail capacity at Westbourne Park to also transport the concrete tunnel segments from Old Oak Common.”

Last week project bosses confirmed independent bed maker Big Table, which is also located on Great Western Road, would no longer need to be bulldozed to make way for Crossrail.