Pictured above: Workers on the Cross rail track and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan
BY CALUM FRASER
The Mayor of London has been criticised as Crossrail is set to be delayed again.
Europe’s biggest infrastructure project, which would see the Elizabeth line extended to Abbey Wood, was meant to open this month, but the deadline was postponed until the autumn of 2019.
But Crossrail’s new chief executive Mark Wild has said that date may be missed as well. Sir David Evennett, MP for Bexleyheath and Crayford, has expressed his fury at the delay.
He said: “This further delay is appalling and a huge disappointment for our area. As I have said many times before, the new Elizabeth line will provide an alternative to local rail users.
“Crossrail is a wholly owned subsidiary of Transport for London (TfL) and the Mayor of London therefore needs to get a grip on this to avoid further problems and he has some serious questions to answer.”
On top of the delay, a rescue package that could cost the taxpayer up to £2billion was also announced last week.
Mayor Khan said: “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.
“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.”
A review into Crossrail Ltd’s s financing and governance arrangements were commissioned by the mayor. These are being undertaken by KPMG and are nearing completion. So far the review indicated that the likely cost of the delay to the project could cost between £1.6bn and £2bn.
That includes the £300m already contributed by the Department for Transport and TfL in July 2018, leaving an estimated £1.3bn to £1.7bn to complete the project.
The Mayor of London and the Government have agreed a financial package to cover this. The Greater London Authority (GLA) will borrow up to £1.3bn from the DfT.
The GLA will also provide a £100m cash contribution, taking its total contribution to £1.4bn, which it will provide as a grant to TfL for the Crossrail project.
Mark Wild, chief executive of Crossrail Ltd, said: “Stations are in varying stages of completion and we need time to test the complex railway systems. This means that I cannot at this stage commit to an autumn 2019 opening date.”
Cllr Danny Thorpe, leader of Greenwich council, said: “We are extremely disappointed that the opening of the Elizabeth line will be delayed once again, and I know that many of our residents will also be upset at this news.
I hope that the new Crossrail chief executive will announce a new expected opening date shortly. “Abbey Wood and Woolwich have already started seeing the benefit of the “Crossrail effect”, with hundreds of new homes being built and businesses opening.
This will continue, and I am sure that it will be worth the wait when it finally does open.”
When complete the line will run from Reading and Heathrow to Abbey Wood.
An estimated 200 million journeys are predicted on the line annually, increasing central London rail capacity by 10 per cent.