Crossrail 'three and a half months behind schedule before coronavirus'

3 June 2020, 12:00

An independent report has highlighted the impact of coronavirus on Crossrail
An independent report has highlighted the impact of coronavirus on Crossrail. Picture: PA
Matthew Thompson

By Matthew Thompson

Crossrail was three and a half months behind schedule and at risk of going over budget even before factoring in the impact of coronavirus, according to documents quietly released yesterday by Transport for London.

Yesterday, Crossrail’s Chair Tony Meggs told a meeting of TfL’s board that they planned to “meet or beat” the current opening deadline of summer 2021.

The scathing reports have been written by a company called Jacobs Engineering Ltd, a consulting firm that Crossrail brought in to independently review the project.

As early as February this year, Jacobs expressed “serious concerns” that the schedule for trial running of Crossrail would be met. It said that a series of “schedule critical” milestones were missed.

In a second report, submitted at the end of March, Jacobs were warning that the project was 2 months behind schedule.

They wrote: “There remains a continued divergence between planned and actual progress, productivity, technical assurance and documentation submission dates.”

The same report said that Crossrail’s schedule was deemed to be “optimistic” and with “a potentially understated cost-risk exposure”

In other words, the risks of going even further over its already large, £3bn overspend were being underestimated.

In the latest report from April, Jacobs reported a “slippage of 14 weeks” on the planned schedule.

They also said Crossrail’s overall budget was “dependent on the achievement of key schedule dates, which continue to slip, and are not underpinned by the current productivity rates.”

The implication therefore is that on its current trajectory, the project is likely to go further over budget.

And all that is before considering the impact of COVID-19, which Jacobs said was likely to be “significant”.

Due to coronavirus, some 3,500 Crossrail staff are working from home, and Jacobs said management was considering three scenarios which involved works stopping for three, six or nine months.