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Crossrail delayed until 2021 as costs rise by a further £650m

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Crossrail will not open in 2020 and its cost are set to rise by a further £650 million, the project’s head has confirmed

Chief executive Mark Wild wrote in a progress update released on Friday (8 November) that the line would open ‘as soon as practically possible’ in 2021. 

It was also confirmed the cross-London link, which had initially been scheduled to complete last December before being put back to October 2020, could now cost £18.25 billion – more than £2 billion over the original budget.

In September, a statement from Crossrail insisted the October 2020 opening was still a possibility.

However Wild said that the scheme would be further delayed to allow more time to test new software.

’Our latest assessment is that the opening of the central section will not occur in 2020, which was the first part of our previously declared opening window,’ he said.

More information on completion will be provided early next year, according to the latest statement.

Regarding the ballooning budget, Wild said: ‘Our detailed cost forecasts continue to show that the project’s costs will increase, due to programme risks and uncertainties.’

Talks are being held between Crossrail, the Department for Transport and Transport for London over how to fund the rest of the project.

The last assessment, made in December 2018, saw the project agree on £2 billion of extra funding from the Mayor of London, the government and Transport for London.

By the end of the year, three more stations on the central section of the line – Custom House, Farringdon and Tottenham Court Road – will be completed, according to this morning’s update.

The central section will be ’substantially complete’ by next April, except for Bond Street and Whitechapel stations.

According to The Guardian, the costs of civil engineering works just at Whitechapel station alone were £659 million (as of December 2018) – six times the amount originally budgeted and more than double the estimate in 2015.

In April this year the London Assembly’s transport committee hit out at the complexity of designs on the delayed and over-budget project.

The committee, which holds Mayor Sadiq Khan and Transport of London (TfL) to account, also attacked the scheme’s leadership for ’[fostering] an overly optimistic culture, where risks were largely overlooked, instead of escalated’. 

Entitled Derailed: Getting Crossrail back on track, the report reads: ‘Future infrastructure projects should strive to keep designs simple, incorporating standard rather than bespoke features, in order to reduce risks to budget and timelines and protect the public purse against overspend.’

Alluding to a previous National Audit Office report which noted that Crossrail stations had been designed ‘to a high architectural specification’, the report says: ‘The design features are complex and bespoke – for instance, in Paddington station a large steel and glass canopy will be used to bring in natural light.’

The committee went on to lambast Crossrail’s lack of co-ordination on the station designs, which has put many of them behind schedule. 

Crossrail’s 10 new stations have been drawn up by a pool of architects including Weston Williamson, Allies and Morrison, BDP, WilkinsonEyre, John McAslan + Partners, and AHR.

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