£15bn project won't open until next autumn at the earliest
The opening of the £15bn Crossrail scheme has been delayed by nearly a year, it was annouced today.
The central section of the route, which will be known as the Elizabeth line, had been due to open this December but Crossrail has confirmed that date has been pushed back to “autumn 2019".
In a tweet, former transport secretary Andrew Adonis called the news a "catastrophe" and accused the government and current transport Chris Grayling of trying to bury bad news.
Govt just announced, on day 39 of Parliament on holiday, that Crossrail is being delayed by a year and they have big problems with signalling & cost over-runs— Andrew Adonis (@Andrew_Adonis) 31 August 2018
This is huge story & smuggling it out on last Friday of August a classic ruse. More Grayling catastrophe
The company behind the 118km project said the schedule has been revised "to complete the final infrastructure and extensive testing required".
It said the original programme for testing has been compressed because more time was needed by contractors to complete fit-out work in the central tunnels and the development of railway systems software. Testing has started but they need more time to complete the full range of tests, it said.
Crossrail chief executive Simon Wright said: “The Elizabeth line is one of the most complex and challenging infrastructure projects ever undertaken in the UK and is now in its final stages.
“We have made huge progress with the delivery of this incredible project but we need further time to complete the testing of the new railway. We are working around the clock with our supply chain and Transport for London to complete and commission the Elizabeth line.”
The focus remains on opening the full Elizabeth line, from Reading and Heathrow in the west to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east, as soon after the central tunnels open as possible, he added.
In July, the Infrastructure and Projects Authority revealed the project was looking at a cost or schedule overrun if “significant issues” were not addressed.
In its 2018 Annual Report, the IPA gave Crossrail an amber delivery confidence assessment – the first time the project has received a rating below a green category in the report’s six-year existence.
According to the IPA, an amber rating means “successful delivery appears feasible but significant issues already exist, requiring management attention. These appear resolvable at this stage and, if addressed promptly, should not present a cost/schedule overrun”.
At the time - just over a month ago - the Department for Transport (DfT) said Crossrail was still confident of hitting its deadline, but added: “The project is now over 90% complete and is entering its final stages. Cost and schedule pressures are increasing. The department, as well as Transport for London (with the assurance of the project representatives) have increased governance to closely monitor progress.”
Meanwhile, the cost to finish the project also skyrocketed, with an annual update on Crossrail from transport minister Jo Johnson revealing the DfT and TfL had agreed to the new £15.4bn funding figure. Last year the figure was expected to be £14.8bn.
When the central section of the Elizabeth line opens in autumn 2019, the railway will initially operate as three separate services: Paddington (Elizabeth line station) to Abbey Wood via central London, Paddington (mainline station) to Heathrow (Terminals 2, 3 and 4) and Liverpool Street (mainline station) to Shenfield. It is expected to be used by 200m passengers a year.
Architects working on the scheme include John McAslan & Partners at Bond Street, Foster & Partners at Canary Wharf, Wilkinson Eyre at Liverpool Street, BDP at Whitechapel, Hawkins Brown at Tottenham Court Road, Aedas at Farringdon, Allies & Morrison at Custom House, Pascall & Watson which is working on 13 stations, Bennetts which is working on outer London stations, and Weston Williamson at Paddington and Woolwich. PLP designed a £120m office block over the Farringdon Crossrail station.