Friday 26 October 2018 3:53 pm

Sadiq Khan urged to ‘get a grip’ on London transport as government bails out Crossrail with £350m loan

Reporter at City A.M. covering banking, markets and insurance

Reporter at City A.M. covering banking, markets and insurance

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London mayor Sadiq Khan has been urged to “get a grip” of transport in the city after the government bailed out the delayed Crossrail project with a £350m loan today.

Transport for London (TfL) said the money was needed to continue construction work on the delayed Elizabeth Line.

In July, rail minister Jo Johnson announced that the project needed an extra £600m in funding, taking its total cost from £14.8bn to £15.4bn.

Over a month later it was announced the line, scheduled to open in December, would be delayed until autumn 2019, and on Friday the government intervened with a short-term loan of £350m.

Conservative vice chairman for London Paul Scully said the move was “emblematic” of Khan's “complete mismanagement” of TfL's finances.

He said: “Sadiq Khan should concentrate on his day job and urgently get a grip of transport projects and soaring violent crime in our capital.”

Khan, who was in Brussels on Friday to meet the EU's Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, admitted there was “very challenging work” to be completed but insisted he would deliver a world-class railway “that makes London proud”.

He said: “This agreement is the result of positive discussions between City Hall, TfL, the Treasury and the Department for Transport and will allow Crossrail Ltd to continue their construction work and the testing process.

“Some very challenging work remains to be completed, but we will continue to work alongside the government to deliver this important piece of infrastructure, and we will continue to keep the public informed of our progress towards its completion.”

In a statement to parliament today, Jo Johnson said: “As an interim measure, we are announcing that £350m of short term repayable financing will be made available to the Mayor for the year 2018/19.

"This will ensure that full momentum is maintained behind Crossrail.”

He added that discussions over further funding were ongoing along with a separate review into both Crossrail's governance and its finance and commercial position.

Earlier this month members of the London Assembly accused Sadiq Khan of misleading the public over what he knew about the nine-month Crossrail delay.

The Assembly's transport committee said the accounts it had heard regarding the delay had been "partial and contradictory".

Khan has repeatedly said he knew nothing of the delay until a meeting with the Crossrail board on 29 August – two days before it was announced the project would be delayed until autumn 2019.

But the committee pointed to a number of meetings between Crossrail and the DfT from 19 July in which they argue the delays would have been made clear.

It is not yet known what the full financial cost to the delay will be but TfL commissioner Mike Brown has admitted the transport body would miss out on £20m additional revenue through ticket fares.

In a letter to the London Assembly's transport committee, Khan's deputy mayor for transport also said TfL would lose £10m in commercial income, or advertising.