HS2

04.10.18

London Assembly finds ‘grave discrepancies’ and was ‘misled’ over Crossrail delay

London transport bosses and the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, have been accused of misleading the London Assembly Transport Committee after it “identified grave discrepancies” in evidence given to its investigation.

The committee had been investigating when Crossrail, Transport for London (TfL), and the mayor were first made aware of the delays to the £15bn project, which was due to open this December but has now been delayed until at least next autumn.

The committee says that, on 6 September, Sadiq Khan told the London Assembly that Crossrail did not make him aware of the delays until 29 August, yet TfL were definitely told of the delays on 19 July.

The committee says that it is “highly likely” that the mayor, as chair of TfL, would have been informed at the same time.

However, Crossrail told the assembly that it had briefed the mayor on 26 July.

Shockingly, the committee has also learnt of a statement that TfL made to the London Stock Exchange on 24 July. There was no mention of the delays, despite evidence that Crossrail informed TfL that they could not have confidence in the opening date on 19 July.

Last month, it was revealed that the delays to the Crossrail project could cost TfL up to £20m in lost revenue in the upcoming financial year.

The committee gathered evidence from the mayor, TfL and Crossrail in meetings on 6 and 12 September. It is now calling for clarity from all parties and has also written to the Financial Conduct Authority for further clarification on the issue.

Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM, chair of the London Assembly Transport Committee said: “The evidence we have received shows it is highly likely that the mayor was informed on or soon after 19 July that there was very likely to be a delay. It may have been justified to wait for clearer information before a public announcement. However, it is arguable that maintaining that he was completely uninformed is misleading.”

She went on to describe it as “absurd” that TfL and Crossrail should publicly discuss a paper suggesting the project was on track, as it did on 25 July, before “turning off the cameras for the ‘real’ discussion where bad news was shared.”

Pidgeon went on to demand that all Crossrail discussions by the TfL Board and its sub-committees are held in public.

She concluded: “The Transport Committee very much looks forward to the opening of the Elizabeth Line and the huge benefits it will bring to Londoners once it arrives. However, the mayor needs to be held accountable for the apparent secrecy and misleading information regarding the details of this project. Such practices must not be repeated in future projects such as Crossrail 2.”

Today, Sky News revealed that Sir Terry Morgan, chair of Crossrail, is preparing to step down from his position.

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