During a meeting yesterday (1st Dec) The London Assembly Transport Committee were told by Transport for London (TfL) commissioner Andy Byford that non-essential parts of the Crossrail project may be “parked” to ensure that the Elizabeth Line is ready for its revised opening window.
Following TfL securing a further £825m loan from the government to complete the project, Byford told The London Assembly Transport Committee that “everything is being done” for the first initial opening to take place as planned during the first half of 2022.
Grant Shapps announced yesterday that the additional borrowing will be made available to the Greater London Authority (GLA). The GLA intend to repay this loan via London's Business Rate Supplement and from the Mayoral Community Infrastructure Levy.
The announcement detailed that the government remains committed to the rapid completion of the project, in a way that is fair to UK taxpayers and has committed to financing the competition of Crossrail.
“However, London, as the primary beneficiary, must ultimately bear any additional costs. Crossrail Ltd is committed to reducing its funding shortfall and will take all necessary steps to complete the project without requiring further additional funding. Transport for London (TfL) is ensuring that further independent analysis of costs is carried out.”
Byford admitted that sections of the project that are “not public facing or safety critical” could be pushed back.
He further added: “We know what we need to do, we have a very clear understanding of work to go.
“I am confident that there will be no further slippage and no further expense to the public on top of what has already been spelled out.”
He said the elements that may be parked are things which are not essential for opening stations or opening a new railway.
The funding agreement was settled following a further delay and cost overrun to the project was announced due to Covid-19 related delays in the summer.
On the back of this announcement, Crossrail said they needed a further £1.1bn to complete the job.
Byford and deputy mayor Heidi Alexander confirmed that TfL now “hopes” that it can complete the project with the additional £825m funding package.
Although, further negotiations may be required with government to secure the surplus £275m.
Crossrail is currently coming towards the end of their second, 11-day, blockade of the railway to make up for lost time.
Chief Executive of Crossrail, Mark Wild, said that the blockade has been put in place to get the railway ready for systems integration dynamic testing (SIDT) which is due to begin on Dec 3rd.
This follows a “very successful” six-week blockade in the summer which was put in place to allow vital works to be completed and again make up for time lost due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Wild also said specialists have been brought in by TfL to help with station works.
Keith Sibley has been brought in as Mobilisation and Improvement Director and will focus on the interface between delivery and operation of the railway.
Dunham has been brought in as Stations Delivery Director and will focus on getting Crossrail’s stations the green light, with a strong focus on the late-running Bond Street station.