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Crossrail facing further delays; £2bn budget increase required

Image credit: Dreamstime

The opening of Crossrail has been delayed beyond its proposed Autumn 2019 date and it will now require an additional £2bn in funding, Transport for London (TfL) has confirmed.

Core elements of the infrastructure being delivered by Crossrail including the stations and the fit out of the tunnels which are currently at varying stages of completion and more funding is needed to complete it.

In addition, extensive safety and reliability testing needs to be carried out for the new railway systems.

“It has now become clear that more work is required than had been envisaged to complete the infrastructure and then commence the extensive testing necessary to ensure the [Crossrail] railway opens safely and reliably,” TfL said in a statement.

The request for budget increases came after a KPMG review into Crossrail’s finances, which found that it would need an extra £1.6bn to £2bn to complete the project. That includes the £300m already contributed by the Department for Transport (DfT) and TfL in July 2018, leaving an estimated £1.3bn to £1.7bn.

The Mayor of London and the Government have agreed a financial package to cover the new budget.

“When Crossrail is complete it will truly transform travel across the capital, with new state-of-the-art trains adding 10 per cent to central London’s rail capacity and boosting the economy by billions of pounds,” Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, said.

“I haven’t hidden my anger and frustration about the Crossrail project being delayed. This has a knock-on consequence of significant additional cost to the project. It has been increasingly clear that the previous Crossrail Ltd leadership painted a far too optimistic picture of the project’s status.”

Khan ordered the release of minutes from Crossrail board meetings in the past five years to provide “transparency to Londoners”.

His office claims they are a “serious indictment of Crossrail Ltd’s failed governance” and show that Khan and TfL were not informed that the central section of the project would “definitely be delayed” until August 29th.

“With London’s population continuing to grow, our priority must be getting this monumental project completed as soon as possible, with Londoners enjoying all the benefits the Elizabeth Line will provide,” he said. “This agreement means that, working with TfL and the Government, Crossrail’s new leadership can get the job done.”

Mike Brown, London’s Transport Commissioner, said: “Crossrail Ltd’s announcement of the delay to the Elizabeth line is extremely disappointing and, only now, is the scale of what is yet to be completed becoming clear.

“The confirmation of this funding agreement will now allow Crossrail Ltd and its new leadership to focus on finishing the remaining construction work on the stations and tunnels and then completing the vital safety testing in order to open the railway for passengers as quickly as possible.”

The announcement is yet another blow to the project, which saw the opening of the Elizabeth line put back almost a year in August 2018, pushing the proposed date far beyond its intended date of December 2018. 

When fully open, the Elizabeth line will increase central London’s rail capacity by 10 per cent, carrying over half a million passengers per day. The new railway is also expected to support 180,000 new homes and over 360,000 new jobs. 

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