A plan to launch a privately funded rival service to Crossrail in London was unveiled this week.

One of the men behind the £13.2bn scheme, former rail chief John Prideaux, said the proposed Superlink service would carry four times as many as passengers as Crossrail and cover a wider area. He also called on the government to reconsider the Crossrail project, which needs to find £5.5bn to get off the ground.

Prideaux said Superlink would provide a service to areas that had been pencilled in for intensive housing development and would follow the same central London route as Crossrail from Heathrow to Canary Wharf and Stratford via Paddington. But he said it would also run to dormitory towns in Hampshire, Surrey, Berkshire and Essex and to Cambridge, Northampton and Ipswich.

Prideaux said: “We think the building of a new east-west railway is too big an opportunity to be allowed to go wrong. Our scheme serves the planning needs and traffic patterns of the 21st century.”