Crossrail

Crossrail choices added unnecessary cost - report

Crossrail
Reuters

Unnecessary cost has been created because of how the Crossrail project has been managed, the public spending watchdog said.

A report by the National Audit Office (NAO) highlighted several factors which contributed to the spiralling budget of the delayed scheme to build a new east-west railway in London.

These include a focus on achieving the planned opening date of December 2018, the absence of a detailed plan to track progress and a lack of pressure on key contractors to work efficiently.

In response to delays in the schedule, testing of train and signalling systems were carried out in early 2018 even though "few meaningful results could be acquired at this point" because of a software problem, the report stated.

This took time away from those involved in construction work.

Changes to designs and contractors' delivery schedules cost around £2.5 billion between 2013 and 2018, according to the NAO's analysis.

Crossrail is being jointly funded by the Department for Transport and Transport for London.

It is "not possible to conclude overall value for money" until services begin and the final cost of the programme is known, the NAO warned.

The overall budget for Crossrail has risen from £14.8bn in 2010 to a latest estimate of £17.6bn.

Crossrail Ltd, the company building the railway, announced last week that services in the central section between Paddington and Abbey Wood will begin by March 2021 at the latest, although Bond Street station will not be ready.

Crossrail delay pushes park refurbishment over budget

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Finsbury Circus park
Local Democracy Reporting Service

Plans to transform the City of London’s oldest park have run nearly £900,000 over budget and were postponed because of delays to finishing Crossrail.

Finsbury Circus Gardens – nestled inside a circle of listed Georgian office buildings – has since 2012 been the location for a 40-metre shaft used by workers to access Crossrail tunnels.

City of London Corporation bosses also expect Crossrail to pay out £4.1m in compensation because of the knock-on effect the delay has caused.

The Corporation hopes to re-landscape the gardens and build a two-storey pavilion with a roof terrace, once crisis-hit Crossrail has finished on the site.

They were originally expected to leave the 17th Century Gardens, near Liverpool Street Station, in September last year but the Corporation has now pinned its hopes that Crossrail workers will be gone by October 2019, and that on-site work can start by March 2020.

A Corporation report said the massive delays to Crossrail have caused the Finsbury Circus project’s costs to overrun by £896,700, taking its total cost to £6.17m.

At a Projects Committee meeting on Wednesday, chairman Keith Bottomly said: “Crossrail has got to stump up its £4.1 million or more.”

Fears were also raised that the companies occupying the Circus buildings would be angered if the gardens need to be dug up again — after Crossrail finishes restoring it.

Councillor Karina Dostalova said: “I just wanted to flag the reputational risk. It’s an area where we have a lot of banks and some very high-end hotels. It’s been a development area under construction for so long that there’s a huge reputation risk if we delay it much further.”

The stations in central London for the 26-mile line may not open until 2021, nearly three years behind the original schedule.

The Finsbury Circus project also ran into trouble because the company tasked with designing the new park was sacked last year after producing a “disappointing” early draft.

Committee members decided they will look again next month to decide whether to allocate small amounts of the Corporation’s own funding to the project, which may eventually be finished by April 2021.

A spokesperson for Transport for London, which is overseeing Crossrail, said: “Compensation for use of Finsbury Circus and disruption caused by Crossrail construction at that location will be determined by the Compensation Code.

"This is a legal process and we will make no further comment.”

Crossrail pushes launch date again

Crossrail workers in a tunnel
Getty Images

Crossrail has announced that it is delaying its launch data again - this time until March 2021 at the very latest.

Construction began in 2009 and it is Europe's biggest infrastructure project - it had been due to open in December 2018 although last summer that was pushed back to autumn 2019.

Crossrail said that following a detailed audit of the programme and a new leadership team, it intends to first open the central section of the Elizabeth line between Paddington and Abbey Wood, initially linking the West End, the City of London, Canary Wharf and southeast London with 12 trains per hour during peak times.

However, the Bond Street station was likely to be delayed because of design and delivery challenges.

“I share the frustration of Londoners that the huge benefits of the Elizabeth line are not yet with us. But this plan allows Crossrail Ltd and its contractors to put the project back on track to deliver the Elizabeth line," said Crossrail's chief executive Mark Wild.

"Crossrail is an immensely complex project and there will be challenges ahead particularly with the testing of the train and signalling systems but the Elizabeth line is going to be incredible for London and really will be worth the wait. This new plan will get us there and allow this fantastic new railway to open around the end of next year.”

Crossrail boss 'urged to quit' over handling of delays

Crossrail train
Reuters

London's top transport boss should consider quitting, a report into Crossrail's delays has recommended.

The project, to build a new railway underneath central London, was due to open in December 2018 but it might not open until 2020 at the earliest.

A report by the London Assembly has recommended Transport for London (TfL) commissioner Mike Brown reflect "on whether he is fit to fulfil his role".

TfL said the project's delay was down to the previous Crossrail management.

Crossrail boss 'urged to quit' over handling of delays

Train
Reuters

London's top transport boss should consider quitting, a report into Crossrail's delays has recommended.

The project, to build a new railway underneath central London, was due to open in December 2018 but it might not open until 2020 at the earliest.

A report by the London Assembly has recommended Transport for London (TfL) commissioner Mike Brown reflect "on whether he is fit to fulfil his role".

TfL said the project's delay was down to the previous Crossrail management.

Read more here.

'Viability rested on Crossrail'

Workers at a Crossrail construction site
Reuters

TSSA General Secretary Manuel Cortes has pointed out that with Crossrail suffering further delays, London's transport system will miss out on revenues from the cross-city rail link that were supposed to subsidise other parts of the network.

He says the mistake was to withdraw public support for London transport without the certainty that Crossrail would be completed on time.

“London is now the only major capital city on our planet not to get an operational grant to run its public transport network.

"TfL have been struggling to cope with the impact of what has been a very big cut in its funding. Back office staff have been cut. Compliance Officers cut. Station staff cut. Security staff cut. Nearly all ticket offices have disappeared and passenger information centres have also been cut.

"The viability of TfL's entire business plan was resting on Crossrail coming in on time, it's not hard to see now why a major crisis lies ahead as its anticipated high revenues were to be used to support the capital's entire transport network.