Crossrail delayed again: Service will not start 'until 2021' and cost extra £650 million

8 November 2019, 09:35

Crossrail has been delayed again
Crossrail has been delayed again. Picture: PA

By Asher McShane

London's delayed east-west railway link Crossrail will not open next year and costs will run up to £650m more than previously estimated, its boss said today.

Services will begin "as soon as practically possible in 2021", said Mark Wild, chief executive of Crossrail Ltd.

It had previously been announced that Crossrail would open between October 2020 and March 2021. The rail link was at first supposed to be completed in December 2018, but this date was also missed due to a series of problems.

"A key focus during 2019 has been finalising the stations, tunnels, portals and shafts. By the end of the year, Custom House, Farringdon and Tottenham Court Road stations will be complete and the project is on track to finish fit-out of the tunnels in January," said Mr Wild.

"The central section will be substantially complete by the end of the first quarter in 2020, except for Bond Street and Whitechapel stations where work will continue.

He added: "Crossrail Ltd will need further time to complete software development for the signalling and train systems and the safety approvals process for the railway. The Trial Running phase will begin at the earliest opportunity in 2020, this will be followed by testing of the operational railway to ensure it is safe and reliable.

"Our latest assessment is that the opening of the central section will not occur in 2020, which was the first part of our previously declared opening window."

The cost of the railway could reach £18.25 billion, representing an increase of up to £650 million on the previous funding total agreed by Mayor Sadiq Khan, the Government and Transport for London. Crossrail's budget was set at £15.9 billion in 2007.

Crossrail Ltd said there are four "major tasks" that must be completed before services can begin; building and testing the software to integrate trains with three different signalling systems. Installing and testing station systems, completing and installing equipment in the tunnels and testing communications systems, trial runs for the trains for thousands of miles.

The railway will be known as the Elizabeth line when it launches.

A TfL spokesperson said: “The Crossrail team continues to make progress completing the railway and is moving forward with the complex testing of the signalling and train systems so that the railway can be handed over safely and reliably for passenger service.

"As Crossrail Ltd previously announced, the Elizabeth line will open as soon as practically possible in 2021.

“As part of our annual business planning process, we have made some prudent assumptions including that the central section of the railway could open in autumn 2021, but continue to support Crossrail Ltd in delivering the railway as soon as possible.

"Crossrail Ltd continue to refine their delivery schedule and will provide an update in the coming weeks.”