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Crossrail delay: Politicians and businesses react to the ‘massive catastrophe’

Politicians and business leaders have banded together to issue some strong words regarding today’s news that Crossrail will be delayed by at least nine months and up to potentially a year.

Labour’s Lord Adonis took to Twitter to air his discontent with what he branded “more Grayling catastrophe.”

“This is a huge story and smuggling it out on the last Friday of August is a classic ruse,” he wrote.

He also attacked the project for being “essentially leaderless” over the past few months after the chief executive and the chair both stepped down despite their hefty salaries, which Lord Adonis claimed amounted to almost £1m a year including performance bonuses.

“It’s clearly a further massive catastrophe for Chris Grayling, who didn’t say a word in public about the scale of the crisis. He himself moved Sir Terry Morgan to be chair of HS2 and that was soon after Andrew Wolstenholme, the chief executive, left,” he told the Guardian. “The biggest infrastructure project in Europe, in a state of crisis, lost both its leaders with Grayling being AWOL throughout. To me it’s utterly inexplicable. How can it give anyone confidence that HS2 will be delivered?”

Shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald also blamed Grayling for the fiasco:

A spokesman for mayor Sadiq Khan, a staunch supporter of both Crossrail 1 and 2, admitted that it was “obviously disappointing” that the company advised they need more time than anticipated to complete final infrastructure and carry out testing. However, he did emphasise that the 10-year project is “one of the most complex engineering schemes ever undertaken.”

Mark Wild, London Underground and Elizabeth Line managing director, had similar words: “The delayed opening is disappointing, but ensuring the Elizabeth line is safe and reliable for our customers from day one is of paramount importance.”

Businesses, however, were less understanding. The Federation of Small Businesses, for example, told the BBC that it was “extremely disappointed” with the news, with London policy chair Sue Terpilowski saying: “Small businesses, particularly in central London, have been preparing for a December roll-out of the new infrastructure and to be told on a Friday in August that the date has now changed is simply not good enough.”

Media representatives have also been told by sources that TfL and the DfT were only told about the Crossrail delay yesterday, indicating a deeper issue of project management than expected.

But Rupa Huq, MP for Ealing Central and Acton, said on Twitter that she was always sceptical of the December launch date after doing “progress site visits” with the chief executive last year in her constituency.

Despite being almost complete, Crossrail has had a bumpy ride over the past months. Just last month, Jo Johnson revealed that its budget had soared £600m over original estimates due to unforeseen pressures.


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