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25.10.18

London Assembly transport chair: Sadiq Khan may want ‘fresh management’ to restore confidence in Crossrail

Crossrail management are using their hearts rather than their heads when making decisions for the project, and the London mayor may bring in “fresh management” to restore confidence, the chair of the London Assembly’s transport committee has said.

In an interview with RTM, Caroline Pidgeon MBE, who chairs the transport committee of the assembly, said the team behind the £15.4bn travel scheme are “so passionate” about delivering the scheme that board members did not want to hear that Crossrail could not be delivered on time.

“The real challenge is having confidence that the existing board of Crossrail are on top of things and that Crossrail can deliver,” Pidgeon said.

“I think they have got some very good officers over there. What it may have been is that the Crossrail board did not want to hear that it could not be opened on time. The people who work on this are so passionate about delivering the railway— of course they are— that they’re using their hearts to rule their decisions rather than their heads.”

Since the announcement of the nine-month delay to Crossrail at the end of August, the London Assembly accused TfL, Crossrail, and mayor of London Sadiq Khan of misleading the transport committee – arguing that it was “highly likely” that the mayor was informed by Crossrail management on or soon after 19 July that there was to be a delay.

The committee added that when a statement was made by TfL to the London Stock Exchange on 24 July, there was no mention of delays—a discrepancy that the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) announced it was considering launching a formal investigation into last week.

Pidgeon added: “Quite honestly, when your rolling stock for Crossrail had been so delayed, when you had a four-month delay in being able to start testing due to an explosion, and when you did start testing it wasn’t working very well, surely your brain is saying: ‘you know we’re not going to be able to start on time.’ Logic says that. You may really want to with your heart, but the logic is that you’re not going to be able to.”

Interestingly, the committee chair suggested that Khan may want see some fresh board members to assist the project forward: “I think that it may well be that the mayor may want some fresh management; fresh board members to help oversee the project going forward so he can have confidence in it.

“The challenge is that, obviously, any appointment to the board is a joint appointment with the DfT, and given the mayor has a challenging relationship with the secretary of state [Chris Grayling], there may well be some tensions there I’m sure.”

Last month, transport bosses at the London Assembly argued that a staggering £20m in revenue could be lost due to the opening delay.

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Image credit: Anthony Devlin, PA Images

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