Thursday 23 January 2014 8:31 pm

Crossrail is hailed for being on track even with funding setbacks

CROSSRAIL has been praised for sticking to its budget and overall schedule by the National Audit Office, despite a smaller-than-expected contribution from the private sector. With the £14.8bn railway across London now half-built, the spending watchdog said Crossrail was set to provide good value for money. “The sponsors and Crossrail Limited have so far done well to protect taxpayers’ interests, by taking early action to stop costs escalating and, during construction, tightly managing the programme,” said Amyas Morse, head of the NAO. The route, co-sponsored by TfL and the Department for Transport, will run from Maidenhead and Heathrow in the west to Abbey Wood and Shenfield in the east when it is fully open by December 2019. BAA, now known as Heathrow Limited, had originally pledged to chip in £230m towards construction in 2008, but this month pared back its contribution to £70m as part of negotiations with the Civil Aviation Authority on its five-year spending plan. Canary Wharf and Berkeley Homes are paying some of the construction costs for new stations. Crossrail is expected to choose a train supplier in the first half of this year, in a contract set to be worth £1bn. The government had hoped to fund most of this deal using private cash, but axed the plan last May amid worries that the funding system could delay delivery of the trains. “[T]he strategic need for Crossrail has become clearer over time as increased population and employment growth in London have been forecast,” the NAO said.