Wednesday 25 November 2020 5:12 pm

Crossrail funding remains up in the air despite government commitment

Questions remain over the immediate future of the Crossrail link despite the government committing to the £19bn project’s completion in today’s National Infrastructure Strategy (NIS).

“The government is continuing to address capacity issues in the capital, by financing the completion of Crossrail”, the paper read.

But negotiations over the funding package for the rail link are still ongoing, with TfL execs warning that immediate extra funding is required to keep construction on track.

Over the weekend, TfL commissioner Andy Byford wrote to officials at the Department for Transport to ask for £80m to prevent the east-to-west rail link being “mothballed”.

In the letter, which was seen by Sky News, he said that agreement on the emergency funding would have to be agreed this week.

No mention of the extra £80m was included in the NIS. 

A TfL spokesperson said: “We welcome the commitment from the Chancellor as part of today’s Spending Review on financing the completion of Crossrail. 

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“We now need to have urgent discussions to ensure the funding can be in place as soon as possible to allow the project to continue.”

Officials are understood to be wrangling over the question of who should pay for the project.

A spokesperson for the DfT said: “The government remains committed to the efficient completion of the project, in a way that is fair to UK taxpayers, and that ensures London – as the primary beneficiary of Crossrail – bears the additional costs.

“We are working with the Greater London Authority and Transport for London to develop a funding solution to see Crossrail’s completion.”

The line, which will connect Reading and Heathrow in the west to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east, was supposed to be open in December 2018 at a cost of £14.9bn.

But Crossrail in August warned it was likely to cost £18.7bn — £450m more than the upper end of its revised budget announced in November 2019 — with the central section of the line not opening until 2022.

Negotiations about a new funding package for the rail link have been exacerbated by bitter talks regarding a second bailout package for TfL which concluded last month.