Transport investment among measures proposed at joint taskforce to help London through the downturn

London mayor Boris Johnson reiterated his support for Crossrail yesterday at the first meeting of a taskforce set up to guide the capital through the downturn.

Meeting with businessmen, civil servants and politicians, including minister for London Tony McNulty, Johnson said that the £16bn rail project should start as soon as possible and government support for tube upgrades should be maintained.

Investing in the city's transport infrastructure was part of a package of measures proposed by the mayor to help the capital survive the financial crisis.

Boris Johnson
Johnson: "crucial… that we work together and rise to the challenges facing the economy"

Other suggestions included bringing back empty property rates relief to support struggling owners of commercial property.

The mayor said that the city must act “quickly and decisively” and it is up to central government to ensure the necessary steps are taken.

He said: “I am determined to do everything in my power and will work with whoever it takes to help London cope with these difficult economic times.

“However, there are also many areas I cannot influence so I am pleased that today's meeting gives me the opportunity to remind central government how it can help and how crucial it is that we work together and rise to the challenges facing the economy in which the capital plays such a major role.”

Johnson said that he will outline a £5bn three-year investment into affordable homes in London later this week.

Meanwhile, UK chancellor Alistair Darling promised that Crossrail would open in 2017 as planned in spite of fears of a prolonged recession. Speaking to the BBC yesterday, he said the government would "maintain investment" in the scheme.