Piling work on the £15.9bn London rail link started at Canary Wharf this morning

Construction work on the £15.9bn Crossrail link officially started this morning.

Prime minister Gordon Brown and London mayor Boris Johnson attended the ceremony to mark the launch of the scheme this morning. The new line, designed to link Maidenhead and Heathrow to the west of London with Kent and Essex in the east, is being constructed despite continued uncertainty over parts of the funding package.

So far all of the major contracts on the scheme have gone to US firms, or US-led consortiums, with Bechtel being made project partner and Transcend, a joint venture between Aecom, CH2M Hill and Nichols Group, being awarded the programme partner job.

The 118km line is expected to complete in 2017.