Tom Swarbrick 10pm - 1am
Crossrail will not open until 2022, project confirms
21 August 2020, 09:24
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."
The railway, from Berkshire to Essex via central London, was originally expected to open fully in December 2018, but repeated delays have pushed it back.
A 9 December 2020 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.”
London's Conservative mayoral candidate, Shaun Bailey, launched a scathing attack on Mr Khan and accused him of wasting billions in taxpayers' money.
He told reporters: "Crossrail has been delayed, again, to 2022 and at an extra cost to taxpayers of nearly £5bn in overruns and lost revenue.
"Thanks to Sadiq Khan's negligence and mismanagement, Londoners will have to wait longer on overcrowded trains while our city's economic recovery after covid will be slower and weaker as a result of having this necessary infrastructure delayed.
"London deserves better, commuters deserve better.As Mayor, I would focus relentlessly night and day to get this project back on track."
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."