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04.04.19

MPs ‘not convinced’ two-year delay and £3bn overspend will be enough as committee slams Crossrail’s ‘disastrous’ governance

MPs have said they are “increasingly alarmed at the continual shortcomings” of Crossrail and the DfT as its nearly £3bn overspend and substantial delays still “may not be enough.”

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has slammed Crossrail and the DfT’s lack of accountability over the flagship project and management “characterised by a catalogue of failures,” and said they are “still unable to fully explain how the programme has been allowed to unravel.”

The Crossrail project was due to open in December 2018 and was “supposed to set the standard for delivery of transport programmes around the world.”

But a new revised opening schedule has not yet been agreed, and the MPs said they are “not convinced” that new services will run in 2020 as is currently hoped, “nor that the additional £2.8bn of funding provided will be enough.”

The cost of Crossrail has risen from £14bn to around £17bn after TfL was forced to borrow over £1bn to bail out the project. It was then hit with several substantial delays as well as the resignation of its chair.

The committee’s latest report gives a scathing review of Crossrail Limited’s management of the project, with key warning signs missed or ignored and passengers still in the dark about the root causes of the programme “unravelling so quickly and so disastrously.”

The PAC criticised Crossrail for failing to properly report the progress and risks of the programme, and slammed the DfT’s project management and oversight.

The report stated: “We are becoming increasingly alarmed at the continual shortcomings our work has highlighted in the department’s project management and oversight of the railways and we will continue to look closely at progress with this programme.”

Meg Hillier, the chair of the committee, said: “Passengers were led to believe they would be able use new Crossrail services through central London from the end of last year. Instead, they have been badly let down by significant delays and cost overruns.

“Wishful thinking is no basis for spending public money and there remain serious risks to delivering this programme, with a revised schedule and costings for completing the work still to be agreed.”

She added: “It is unacceptable that Parliament and the public still do not know the root causes of the failures that beset this project. Nor will we accept the department and Crossrail Limited’s description of these serious problems as ‘systems failures.’

“Accountability in the use of public money is of fundamental importance.”

Image credit - Dominic Lipinski

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