Crossrail racks up £1.4bn bailout as overuns delay opening of Elizabeth line

Plans to open Crossrail’s Elizabeth Line in 2019 have been dealt a blow with project overruns adding an extra £1.4bn to the project.

Elizabeth Line
Image: Bryden Wood

Stretching over 60 miles from Reading in the west to Shenfield in the east, the Elizabeth Line was scheduled to open in December 2018 but was put back in August this year to autumn 2019.

“Since I joined Crossrail Ltd in November I have been reviewing the work still required to complete the core stations and rail infrastructure and begin the critical safety testing,” said Mark Wild, chief executive of Crossrail Ltd. “It is evident that there is a huge amount still to do. Stations are in varying stages of completion and we need time to test the complex railway systems. This means that I cannot at this stage commit to an autumn 2019 opening date. My team and I are working to establish a robust and deliverable schedule in order to give Londoners a credible plan to open the railway.”

A finance package has been agreed between the government and the Mayor of London, the Greater London Authority (GLA), and Transport for London (TfL) to deliver the final stages of the Crossrail project.

Initial findings of a KPMG review into Crossrail Ltd’s finances indicate the likely cost of the delay announced in August to be between £1.6bn and £2bn, including £300m contributed by the Department for Transport (DfT) and TfL in July 2018, leaving an estimated £1.3bn to £1.7bn to complete the project.

The Greater London Authority (GLA) will borrow up to £1.3bn from the DfT and repay the loan from an existing Business Rate Supplement (BRS) and Mayoral Community Infrastructure Levy. The GLA will also provide a £100m cash contribution, taking its total contribution to £1.4bn which it will provide as a grant to TfL for the Crossrail project.

London mayor Sadiq Khan, said: “I haven’t hidden my anger and frustration about the Crossrail project being delayed. This has a knock-on consequence of significant additional cost to the project.  It has been increasingly clear that the previous Crossrail Ltd leadership painted a far too optimistic picture of the project’s status.

“With London’s population continuing to grow, our priority must be getting this monumental project completed as soon as possible.”

When fully open, the Elizabeth line will increase central London’s rail capacity by 10 per cent, carrying over half a million passengers per day.