THE price of Crossrail has risen by another £140 million, and rail minister Chris Heaton-Harris described the further increase as ‘very disappointing’. It also seems likely that completion of the project will be delayed yet again.
The extra funding is needed to complete the surface sections in east and west London, which are run by Network Rail, and there is no connection with the coronavirus pandemic, because it has emerged that the additional costs were calculated before lockdown.
However, work on Crossrail sites was paused for a while until ‘safe working’ could be introduced, and this may have increased the delays still further.
Mr Heaton-Harris told MPs: ‘In November last year and before the impact of Covid-19, Crossrail Limited announced that it would not be able to deliver the railway within the funding package originally announced by the Department and the Mayor of London in December 2018, and that it would require between £400 million to £650 million in additional funding.
‘The further schedule delays and cost increases to this project since the last annual update are very disappointing. A revised funding package will now need to be developed for Crossrail that is fair to UK taxpayers, with London as the primary beneficiary bearing the cost.
‘CRL are currently in the process of updating their cost and schedule forecasts in light of their Recovery Plan, including assessing the impact on their opening schedule and will make a further update on this shortly. A further update to the overall costings for Network Rail’s programme shows that the Crossrail ‘On Network’ Works require an extra £140 million of funding with the cost of the surface works package now standing at just under £3 billion. The additional costs are the result of some station and power upgrade work taking longer than planned.’
The London Assembly Transport Committee said: ‘We knew costs were increasing before Covid hit. It now seems almost certain that the project will be further delayed and put further into the red as a result of this crisis.’
The central section of Crossrail should have opened in December 2018, but in January this year Crossrail had said it was planning to open the central section in summer 2021 and the full Elizabeth Line by mid-2022. It is now feared that these dates will slip again.
Mr Heaton-Harris said: ‘CRL are currently in the process of updating their cost and schedule forecasts in light of their Recovery Plan, including assessing the impact on their opening schedule.’