Crossrail delay: The report
The Transport Committee has published the report ‘Derailed: Getting Crossrail back on track’.
The report analyses in detail the catalogue of factors which contributed to the delay. It also makes a series of recommendations to ensure that Crossrail can be completed successfully, and other major infrastructure projects avoid the same fate.
- Crossrail is a major programme to provide new rail services for London and the South East, running from Reading and Heathrow in the west, through central London, to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east. Once opened, Crossrail will be known as the Elizabeth line.
- The project has faced financial challenges. On 24 July 2018 it was announced that the budget was being increased by £590 million, to £15.4 billion. This included funding for Crossrail Limited and Network Rail.
- On 10 December 2018, it was announced that there would be a new increase in Crossrail’s budget, of up to £2.15 billion, in response to increasing costs. This included funding for Crossrail Limited only. This has brought the total funding envelope to £17.6 billion. This funding envelope does not include the cost of trains and depots, amounting to £1.1 billion.
- Crossrail has also faced major delays. On 31 August 2018, Crossrail announced its central section would not open until Autumn 2019, when the opening was originally planned for December 2018.
- In early 2019, Crossrail admitted it could not commit to an opening date and more work needed to be done to understand what was left on the project.
The report, which analysed hundreds documents and took in hours of oral evidence from guests in public meetings, has detailed a range of findings.
Amongst the findings are:
- E-mails between Crossrail and Transport for London (TfL) suggest that communications to the Mayor were watered down by TfL Commissioner, Mike Brown, instead of flagging risks to the timetable early.
- Significant concerns raised by the independent reviewer, as early as January 2018, were largely ignored.
- The desire to achieve the completion date overpowered any professional and critical assessment of risk.
- The Crossrail Executive did not have the skills required at the later stages of the project to adequately assess and understand risks as they became apparent.
Case Study: Abbey Wood
We bought a house in Abbey Wood in 2017 in anticipation of the soon-to-arrive Crossrail. I work in Euston full time so the journey time was very long at approximately 1hr 20mins door-to-desk each way…The supposed arrival of Crossrail made it bearable as it would cut the journey time by around 50 mins, especially as I became pregnant and found the journey absolutely exhausting.
Almost two years later and with the arrival of a child, my maternity leave is almost complete. I now have to try and navigate getting back to work with finding childcare that opens early enough and closes late enough for me to be able to drop my child off and still make it to work and back on time. This is highly stressful, not to mention expensive. It puts me in a position that makes it very difficult to be able to perform my job well and be a good mother. This is not a choice I should have to make!
- Submission from Resident of Abbey Wood, received on 3 April 2019
The report made a total of 11 recommendations to key stakeholders like the Mayor, TfL and Crossrail.
Among these recommendations are:
- TfL’s Commissioner must reflect on whether he is fit to continue to fulfill his role in TfL.
- The Mayor and TfL board must strengthen control over TfL and implement the necessary processes to allow them to remain fully informed and on top of the projects they are ultimately accountable for.
- Crossrail and similar future projects should have systems that encourage transparency, openness and a sense of accountability on all levels.