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Crossrail dips below its budget as progress slows down

Work on Crossrail is progressing slower than expected, TfL board papers show, meaning that expenditure so far this year is £42m below budget.

The information is disclosed in an operational and financial performance and investment report covering the first quarter of 2015-16, which the Transport for London board will discuss when it meets today (24 September).

On Crossrail, the report says there has been slower than expected progress on systemwide design and procurement activities, and at Old Oak Common – one of the key hubs of the Crossrail project, served by local planning authority Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation.

There have also been net reductions in the provision held for contractual claims and lower than expected “drawdown of programme risk”.

A further £2m of the underspend so far this year is because of “delayed consultancy and technical design services”.

Land and property commitments form the remaining £10m below the budget, mainly due to net downward revaluations at Farringdon and Westbourne Grove.

And despite the project’s distance from its allocated budget, costs were already offset by price hikes including overspending at Tunnel West, poor contractor performance at Whitechapel and new funding agreement for Traction Power.

It is also employing 166 fewer staff (FTEs) than expected due to delayed recruitment of staff for new roles created in the 2015-16 business plan.

The project is now expected to cost £34m more than the allocated budget over the full year. Direct costs are £27m over the price as a result of performance and interface issues at Whitechapel and slow progress on Tunnels West and Eastern Running Tunnels.

Indirect costs are £5m over the budget because of costs transferred from direct costs for systemwide and Whitechapel respite accommodation.

Land and property costs are £2m over the budget due to commitments at Plumstead, which were expected to be fulfilled in the last financial year. However, this was partly offset by a downward revaluation at Westbourne Grove.

Provisions at the end of Q1 2015-16 were also £11m above the budget, with lower payments for property claimants of £34m offset by £15m lower property commitments arising and a decrease of £8m in contractual claims.

On the other hand, detailed design for most of the physical elements of the Class 345 fleet has been completed.

The report said: “The first components of the structural test car-body are on the production line being prepared for assembly and the trial roof panels have been manufactured ready to allow verification of the weld process.”

Construction of the operations, maintenance and control building at the Bombardier depot in Old Oak Common is also “well underway”, with teams “fully resourced” as preparations for the services phase continue. During this mobilisation stage, the teams will work closely with TfL to support the train, new sidings and detailed depot design reviews.

The project is more than 66% complete and remains on time despite slow progress. The sprayed concrete construction that forms the majority of station platform tunnels is complete and secondary lining is 63% ready, with continued work at five locations.

The £2.3bn Network Rail upgrade of the existing rail network to accommodate Crossrail is 46% complete. Work is also continuing on station design and submissions to councils with extra station improvement work not in the project’s original scope now fully funded.

A Crossrail spokesperson told RTM: “The Crossrail programme is nearly 70 per cent complete and is being delivered on time and within the £14.8 billion funding envelope. Following the completion of tunnelling in May, Crossrail is now focused on the complex task of fitting out the new tunnels and stations with the necessary infrastructure and railway systems to enable TfL-run services to commence through central London and Docklands in December 2018.

“This includes the installation of track, signalling, high voltage power, tunnel ventilation and overhead line equipment. Good progress is being made - platform construction at the new stations has reached the half-way mark, the installation of first-stage concrete has completed in both the western tunnels and Thames Tunnel and the main logistics railhead at Plumstead will shortly commence operations to construct track slab and install the first tracks in the tunnels.”

Despite this, cost pressures emerged “at a number of stations” during the first quarter of the financial year, which are currently being addressed by senior managers. At the end of the quarter there is “a greater than 20% chance” that another £600m will be needed from TfL contingency funding.

(Top image c. Crossrail)


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