SPECULATION over how the £10 billion Crossrail project will be funded has soared as key supporters await the findings of a Government report.

Mayor Ken Livingstone has sparked fierce debate over funding proposals as the Department of Transport prepares to release its verdict on the much-delayed scheme's routing and feasibility.

The rail project, linking Heathrow Airport and the Isle of Dogs, would see trains going straight under the Thames from the Royal Docks to join the north Kent line at Abbey Wood.

The Mayor estimates building the rail link will benefit the UK economy by £19 billion over a 30-year period.

He wants the project to be partly funded through an additional levy on businesses in the capital.

Greenwich politicians, including Erith and Thamesmead MP John Austin and Len Duvall, London Assembly Member for Lewisham and Greenwich, back the proposals.

Mr Austin said: "Crossrail will keep London as a world-class capital and that is essential to businesses in the capital. It seems reasonable those who reap profits should make a contribution through a supplement on the business rate."

The Mayor also wants to let the public invest in the network with the purchase of people's bonds similar to those which helped finance New York's underground.

And he has said with the resultant tax revenues in excess of £7 billion over 30 years coming to the national purse, it is appropriate the Government should pay around half the cost.

The Mayor's office says a maximum 1.5 per cent rise on Tube and bus fares could be required if Crossrail's operating costs are higher than anticipated but denied reports there are proposals for an increase in council tax.

Meanwhile, the campaign to get Woolwich back on the Crossrail map continues.

Mr Duvall said: "Woolwich would then be a major transport hub as it would also have the DLR, bus services and rail. That will particularly benefit people in the south of the borough."