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Crossrail a ‘textbook example of getting it right’ – MPs

MPs have lauded the £15bn Crossrail project as a ‘textbook example’ of how to get things right on major, complex infrastructure projects – which can be difficult to deliver on time and to budget.

A report from the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which examined the subject of Crossrail, found that the programme is proceeding well and is on course to deliver value for money to the taxpayer.

Additionally, the joint sponsors of the Crossrail programme – the Department for Transport (DfT) and Transport for London – are working well with the delivery organisation, Crossrail Limited, to deliver the programme, which at present is broadly on schedule and being delivered within budget.

Richard Bacon MP, member of the PAC, said: “The team has focussed on the essentials of programme management, including defining a realistic scope, establishing a management team with the necessary skills and securing the required funding. Two years were spent on planning before construction began, and roles and relationships were clearly established.

“The DfT should capture the lessons it has learned from the Crossrail programme and apply these to its other projects, most notably High Speed 2.”

However, it was recommended by the PAC that the DfT needs a clearer understanding of the wider economic benefits of transport projects, which should be included in its investment decisions.

The report states that the full rationale for proceeding with Crossrail was not made clear. And the business case for Crossrail had a benefit-cost ratio of less than 2:1, and focused on the need to provide transport for a rapidly increasing population and to avoid choking economic growth in the South East.

Bacon said: “The Department should clearly set out how it weighs up different factors, including the benefit-cost ratio, in its decision making, and apply consistent criteria to appraising the projects in its portfolio.

“The DfT cannot maximise contributions from private sector beneficiaries of transport projects if it does not fully understand the benefits that projects will bring.”

The PAC added that with the construction of Crossrail yet to be completed, considerable risks remain in delivering the programme by 2019, particularly managing the transition from building the railway to operating it, and delivering the Crossrail trains. “So far, though, the signs are good,” added Bacon.

In response to the report, rail minister Claire Perry MP said: “We have every confidence that Crossrail will be completed on time and, alongside Transport for London, we are working closely with the delivery company, Crossrail Ltd, to ensure it meets its construction timetable.”

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email


Henry Law   25/07/2014 at 22:14

Economists make heavy weather of cost/benefit analysis. All the external benefits eventually turn up in land rental values. They cannot go anywhere else - it follows from Ricardo's Law of Rent. These benefits can be extracted from the raw land value data by the use of statistical techniques. The Jubilee Line Extension gave rise to an aggregate land value uplift of three times the construction cost, according to a survey done for TfL. If more data was collected to calibrate the model it would be possible to form a better estimate of the likely benefit from new infrastructure projects.

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