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Crossrail will not open until 2022 and will be more than £3bn over budget
21 August 2020, 10:07 | Updated: 21 August 2020, 10:10
The central section of Crossrail will not open until 2022, the project's bosses have announced.
The delay is expected cost an extra £1.1bn, according to the Crossrail board, which confirmed the central section between Paddington and Abbey Wood will not be ready to open until the first half of 2022.
The total cost of the project was previously estimated to be as much as £18.25 billion last year - despite a starting budget of just under £15 billion - but Crossrail's board said it expected costs to rise further as Covid-19 delays hike the cost of staff and day-to-day maintenance.
The board said that Crossrail and its sponsors are currently "reviewing Crossrail’s governance arrangements to make sure the right decisions are taken" and that it successfully transitions to TfL as soon as possible.
Mark Wild, chief executive of Crossrail Ltd, said: "Our focus remains on opening the Elizabeth line as soon as possible. Now more than ever Londoners are relying on the capacity and connectivity that the Elizabeth line will bring, and we are doing everything possible to deliver the railway as safely and quickly as we can.
"We have a comprehensive plan to complete the railway and we are striving to commence intensive operational testing for the Elizabeth line, known as Trial Running, at the earliest opportunity.
"Delivery of the Elizabeth line is now in its complex final stages and is being completed at a time of great uncertainty due to the risks and potential impacts of further Covid outbreaks.
"We are working tirelessly to complete the remaining infrastructure works so that we can fully test the railway and successfully transition the project as an operational railway to Transport for London."
A 9 December opening date for the central section of Crossrail was accidentally revealed by Westminster Council last year, but delays due to Covid-19 and problems with rolling stock have further pushed back the project.
Reacting to the announcement, a mayor of London spokesperson said: “The Mayor is deeply disappointed that Crossrail’s updated schedule suggests that Londoners face a longer wait for the Elizabeth line.
"He has asked TfL’s new commissioner, Andy Byford, to review Crossrail’s latest plans - including their estimated additional costs - and to work with the Department for Transport to ensure everything possible is being done to get the central section safely open as quickly as possible.”
Once the central section of the project is opened, full services across the Elizabeth Line will run from Reading and Heathrow in the west to Abbey Wood and Shenfield in the east.
Andy Byford, London’s transport commissioner, said: “It is very disappointing to receive confirmation from Crossrail Ltd that their plan for opening the Elizabeth Line now has a date of the first half of 2022.
"The line will transform travel across London and is vital to supporting jobs, homes and businesses across the capital. I will now work with my team and the DfT to review Crossrail’s plans.
"I have been very clear that I am committed to getting this railway open safely and reliably as quickly as possible for the benefit of London and beyond."