London Underground and TfL

26.02.19

Crossrail bosses hope for new timetable estimate by April but Khan admits there is no confidence about opening date

Crossrail chiefs hope to have a new estimate for a timeline for the heavily delayed railway project by April, but London mayor Sadiq Khan has admitted there is no date its chief executive Mark Wild can give “with confidence.”

The Elizabeth Line, which was originally due to open in December 2018, has been hit by two major delays alongside rapidly increasing costs – and Crossrail’s deputy chairman Nick Raynsford has now said the board has decided not to commit to a new date to avoid “making promises we can’t keep.”

The cost of Crossrail has risen from £14bn to more than £17bn after TfL was forced to borrow over £1bn to bail out the flagship rail project, and uncertainty remains over any new estimated opening six months after the first delay was announced.

Last month Mark Wild, the newly appointed chief executive of Crossrail, ruled out a 2019 opening date and said: “I don’t actually know when it will be delivered after that.”

Now, Raynsford has said a new estimation date is planned to be announced in April as Sadiq Khan, who himself has been at the centre of the controversy regarding Crossrail, admits that its chief executive Wild is not in a position to name a new date yet.

The deputy chairman of Crossrail, in a speech to the City of London Corporation’s Planning and Transport Committee, said: “There can be no hiding from the fact that mistakes have been made and trust has been lost. We need to earn that trust back.”

‘We won’t do that by making more promises we cannot keep … the board, together with Mark and the whole leadership team, have made the decision not to commit to a new timetable until we have the absolute confidence it can and will be delivered.

He added that Crossrail would only confirm a new opening programme once a “robust and deliverable plan” to open the railway.

“We hope to be in a position to give more information on this by early April.”

Caroline Pidgeon, chair of the London Assembly Transport Committee, commented: “Nearly six months have passed since the public were told that the opening of Crossrail would be delayed, yet incredibly we still have no revised opening date for the project.

“I can understand Crossrail’s reluctance to not make promises they cannot keep, but what we cannot escape from is that as every day passes the cost of Crossrail escalates even further and TfL is deprived of a new fare income stream which it so desperately needed.”

Image Credit - Dominic Lipinski

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