Airport operator wants to invest to improve access to Heathrow

Crossrail received a boost today as airport operator BAA committed itself to a £230m funding package for the infrastructure project.

In a statement, the airport operator - owned by Spanish group Ferrovial - said it wants to invest the money to help improve access to Heathrow.

BAA strategy director Mike Forster said that the “vital new link” will also take thousands of cars off the road.

Welcoming the news, UK transport minister Lord Adonis said: “Crossrail will definitely go ahead and the announcement of £230m from BAA further underpins the credibility of the project and ensures that the work will proceed from 2010 so that it could be open in 2017.”

The railway line, which is expected to carry 200 million passengers a year across central London from 2017, was formally approved by the government in July but the economic downturn has cast doubts on its ability to raise the necessary private finance.

The government has promised £5.6bn, around a third of the total funding needed for construction of the line.