London’s transport commissioner has said the £14.8bn Crossrail project is facing “increasing cost and schedule pressures” with deadlines looming for the new railway, which is planned to open in stages from December.
Among board papers published today, a report from Transport for London's commissioner Mike Brown said:
Overall the Crossrail project, which is now 90 per cent complete, remains on time. However, there are some increasing cost and schedule pressures on the project that Crossrail Ltd will continue to manage.
Crossrail construction costs are £172m ahead of budget, though TfL said the Elizabeth Line is still forecast to be delivered within its overall funding.
Headaches have included Whitechapel station works being completed later than budgeted, as well as delayed works at Woolwich station.
A spokesperson for Crossrail said: “The Elizabeth Line is being delivered within its available funding. The TfL finance report refers to Crossrail’s actual expenditure compared to forecast expenditure as estimated in the Crossrail Business Plan. Variances are expected as the Business Plan contains a number of forecast assumptions dating from September 2016, such as the timing and scope of work to be delivered in 2017/18.”
The next key milestone of TfL Rail services beginning between Paddington and Heathrow Terminal 4 in May is also under pressure.
Bombardier is fitting trains with signalling equipment required for operation on the Heathrow branch, but progress is behind plan due to “immaturity and instability” of train software.
TfL said that delay remains the “most significant single risk” to the TfL Rail services starting between Paddington and Heathrow in May.
It has developed a contingency plan which would be in place by the autumn if required.
The railway is set to open from December 2018 in phases, and will then be known as the Elizabeth Line when the central tunnels under London are open.
Howard Smith, operations director for Elizabeth Line, said:
We are on track to begin Elizabeth Line services in December 2018 as planned. The construction programme is now 90 per cent complete and the railway is still forecast to be delivered within the overall funding.
As a precursor to the Elizabeth line we will take over Heathrow Connect services this May. Our supplier Bombardier continues to test the new trains and signalling systems on the approach to Heathrow.
London’s deputy mayor for transport Val Shawcross said earlier this month that delays to the completion of the Elizabeth Line were the biggest revenue risk facing TfL going forwards.
At present, she said, all was well with plans to have the railway fully open by December 2019.
“But it’s a very significant project, it’s 10 per cent of London’s rail capacity uplifted overnight, and of course the income projections are baked into the business plan, so that definitely is one to watch,” Shawcross said.
|Elizabeth Line timeline|
|June 2017: First new train entered passenger service between Liverpool Street and Shenfield|
|May 2018: TfL Rail service starts between Paddington and Heathrow Terminal 4|
|December 2018: Elizabeth Line opens between Paddington and Abbey Wood, Liverpool Street to Shenfield, Paddington to Heathrow Terminal 4|
|May 2019: Direct services operate Paddington to Shenfield and Paddington to Abbey Wood|
|December 2019: Elizabeth Line is fully open|