Covid-19 adds to risks of Crossrail delay warns new London Assembly report

Crossrail 2 Connaught tunnel
Crossrail 2 Connaught tunnel

The Mayor of London and TfL will need a “Sherlock-style forensic focus” to deliver Crossrail on time, according to a new report from the London Assembly.

Originally due to open in December 2018, Crossrail is now not expected to be ready until the first half of 2022, with TfL having been handed responsibility for the project in October last year.

The Assembly’s transport committee has said it is “concerned that project risks are not being managed as effectively as they could be” and has called for a “clearer overview of the project timeline”.

Committee chairman Dr Alison Moore said: “Now that Crossrail has been handed over to the Mayor and TfL to deliver, it is vital that they adopt a Sherlock-style forensic focus to make sure no aspect of delivering the project on time and on budget is missed.

“Covid-19 has understandably put increased financial and staff pressures on Crossrail opening the Elizabeth line. However, there are aspects to delivering Crossrail, such as supporting employees’ workloads and better forecasting project delays, that can contribute to delivering as promised.”

Dr Moore also said it is “imperative” that the Elizabeth line is ready in time to benefit a post-Covid London and has asked Sadiq Khan and TfL to “share Crossrail’s project timeline” and “showcase lessons learned”.
She added: “Londoners need assurance that they will be no further out of pocket and the train will be on the track by summer next year.”

Following an additional £825 million loan from the Government in December 2020, the total budget for the Crossrail project has reached £18.6 billion.

Estimates show that delays to the project have resulted in as much as £1.5 billion in lost fare revenue and that the total cost of delays including overspends and revenue losses is around £5.3 billion.

It is hoped that once Crossrail is completed, an additional 1.5 million people will be within 45 minutes of Central London which will bring “huge benefits” to the capital and the South East and a £42 billion boost to the economy.

Commenting on the report, TfL Commissioner Andy Byford said: “I welcome the London Assembly’s recognition of the importance of the Crossrail project and can assure everyone that my focus remains on safely opening the Elizabeth line as soon as possible. I know that Mark Wild and the whole Crossrail team are also working hard to manage costs and deliver the railway within the funding available.
“There have been many challenges with delivering the railway and I am confident lessons are being learned and applied in these complex final stages of delivery. The Coronavirus pandemic has obviously had some impact on the project and ways of working, and Crossrail has responded to this by ensuring sites remain a safe place to work. We will of course continue to ensure the London Assembly is fully updated on progress of the Elizabeth line, which is so vital for London and beyond.”

Read the full report by the London Assembly’s transport committee here.

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