Land West of Maidenhead has been earmarked for a possible extension to Crossrail

Rail minister Tom Harris announced yesterday that land between Maidenhead and Reading will be safeguarded for Crossrail.

Although Harris said there were no current plans to extend the line beyond Maidenhead, it could become a possibility in the future should there be a business case.

The minister added that electrification works on the route to Reading might already begin, even without the expansion plans.

A decision to include Reading station into the Crossrail route would delay the project’s Bill passage through Parliament.

A Crossrail spokesperson said: "Under the Crossrail Bill 2005 the scheme terminates at Maidenhead, but this does not preclude later extension to Reading.

"Adding the works to the Crossrail Bill is unnecessary, would increase the cost of the project and delay the Bill and possibility the start of construction. Approval for the necessary works can be obtained through normal process such as an order under the Transport and Works Act at any time.

"As the Minister has stated, a pre-requisite for extending Crossrail services to Reading would be electrification. At some stage there could be wider operational advantages from electrification. If it were decided to proceed with electrification, extending Crossrail services to Reading would be a separate decision."

The news comes as the department for transport confirmed its funding for Crossrail. The government dedicated a total funding of £39bn to Transport for London until 2018. This includes a £6bn borrowing by TfL, of which £2.4bn will be dedicated to Crossrail.

Peter Hendy, London's Transport Commissioner, said: "This 10-year funding settlement will enable Transport for London to continue with the huge investment programme that is modernising and extending the Capital's public transport system, including Crossrail, upgrade of the London Underground and preparations for the 2012 Olympics."