TfL to lose £200m from Crossrail delay next year

Alexandra Rogers
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Work Continues On The Crossrail Railway Project
Crossrail was set to open in December this year (Source: Getty)

The delay to Crossrail will cost Transport for London (TfL) nearly £200m in lost passenger fares and advertising revenue next year, the London Assembly has found.

Cash-strapped TfL, which is facing a £1bn operational deficit this year, was relying on the £15.4bn Elizabeth Line to shore up its balance sheet. After months of assurances, the project that was scheduled to open on 9 December was pushed back because of delays to signalling, sparking widespread anger among members of the assembly and the public.

TfL admitted in the summer it would lose out on £20m from lost fares this year, as well as £10m in advertising revenue.

Now those figures have ballooned to £170m and £20m, respectively.

Chairman of the London Assembly's budget committee Gareth Bacon said: "We now have fresh information about what the Crossrail delay will cost TfL – almost £200 million in 2019-20 in lost passenger fares and advertising revenue. But the capital costs are still unknown and current estimates are subject to change. We won’t have a real figure until next summer.

"What we do know is that TfL has already maxed out its corporate credit card just to keep the project going to March 2019. Uncertainty about how much Crossrail might end up costing means TfL must do everything it can elsewhere."

London mayor Sadiq Khan, who chairs TfL, is already facing staunch criticism over his decision to freeze fares, which has left a £640m hole in its finances.

Bacon said the committee was concerned that TfL "hadn’t even thought about a second fares freeze yet".

"Freezing fares is a political choice and any mayor is entitled to freeze fares. But Londoners need to know what they are committing to first, and that means how much it will cost."

He added: “TfL clearly has some way to go to become a financially sustainable public body. The first-term partial fares freeze will end up costing TfL at least £640m; a second-term freeze could be substantially more, and it is simply not sustainable if TfL is to claw its way out of a perilous financial situation.

The committee said it had concerns regarding TfL's promises to break even by 2021-22. "This would be a huge achievement," it said.

A TfL spokesperson said: “As the committee notes, we continue to grip operating costs with more than £500m per annum in savings so far and raising more revenue through our property, advertising and other commercial assets. This strong track record of cost reduction and broadening revenue streams is enabling us to work towards an operating surplus while dealing with the difficult challenges of the withdrawal of £700m per annum in government operating grant and a subdued economy that has resulted in lower revenues.

“Our five-year business plan to be published by the end of the year will describe how we will manage the financial impact of the delay to the Elizabeth Line while continuing to improve transport for everyone in London.”