Monday 25 February 2019 1:27 pm

Crossrail bosses hope to give estimate for new opening date 'by April'

London mayor Sadiq Khan has said there is no date that Crossrail chief executive Mark Wild can give "with confidence" for when the delayed railway will open, but that he hopes to give an estimate by the end of this financial quarter.

The £17.6bn Elizabeth Line, which will stretch from Shenfield in the east to Reading in the west through central London, was due to open last December but has been delayed indefinitely due to problems with signalling testing.

Late last month the recently appointed Wild, TfL managing director of the Underground who is on secondment to Crossrail, admitted that no specific date could be committed to but ruled out the railway opening in 2019.

"I can’t see how this job can be delivered in calendar year 2019,” he said at the time. “I don’t actually know when it will be delivered after that.”

Read more: Crossrail begins dynamic testing on the Elizabeth Line

The ambiguity over a new opening date was echoed in a recent speech made by Crossrail deputy chairman Nick Raynsford, who said the board had decided not to commit to a new timetable to avoid "making promises we can't keep". 

At the City of London Corporation's planning and transport committee annual dinner last week, Raynsford said: "There can be no hiding from the fact that mistakes have been made and trust has been lost. We need to earn that trust back.

"We won’t do that by making more promises we cannot keep, and so Tony and I, and the board together with Mark and the whole leadership team have made the decision not to commit to a new timetable until we have the absolute confidence it can and will be delivered."

He said Crossrail would only confirm a new opening programme once it had established a "robust and deliverable plan" to open the railway. "We hope to be in a position to give more information on this by early April," he added.

Caroline Pidgeon, chair of the London Assembly's transport committee, said: "Nearly six months have passed since the public were told that the opening of Crossrail would be delayed, yet incredibly we still have no revised opening date for the project.

Read more: GLA took out Crossrail loan to 'maintain TfL's credit rating'

“I can understand Crossrail’s reluctance to not make promises they cannot keep, but what we cannot escape from is that as every day passes the cost of Crossrail escalates even further and TfL is deprived of a new fare income stream which it so desperately needed.

“And as the delays in Crossrail escalate so do the unanswered questions as to why the line was held for so long that Crossrail would open on time in December 2018.”