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Crossrail: Huge cost hikes on stations and tunnels revealed

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Enormous cost increases on every single one of Crossrail’s seven central London station contracts have been revealed

Cost hikes up to 500 per cent of the original target cost have also been reported on tunnelling contracts as well as significant increases in route-wide civil engineering and systems integration contracts.

In total, public spending watchdog the National Audit Office (NAO) revealed cost increases on 36 main works contracts on the central section ’including contracts for tunnelling, civil engineering, station construction and fit-out, and implementing the systems required to operate the railway and stations’.

According to the AJ’s sister title New Civil Engineer work on Whitechapel Station alone was forecast to bust its budget by 499 per cent. 

The Whitechapel project, being carried out by a joint venture including Balfour Beatty, Morgan Sindall and Vinci and designed by BDP, is now estimated to cost £659 million – £549 million above the forecast £110 million cost when the contract was originally awarded in 2011.

The NAO report concludes: ’Whitechapel in particular has seen larger spend than anticipated as a result of difficulties building around existing London Underground and overground lines and station architecture.’

A £395 million cost increase has also been forecast at Farringdon Station, while Paddington Station is now expected to come in £390 million over its original budget.

Bond Street Station – which is no longer expected to open at the same time as the other Central London stations – is forecast to run £286 million over budget, while significant cost hikes have also been forecast at Liverpool Street Station (£227 million over budget), Tottenham Court Road Station (£184 million over budget) and Woolwich Station (£164 million over budget).

New Civil Engineer understands that these costs include lump-sum agreements made with contractors after it emerged that Crossrail would miss its December 2018 opening date.

Station contracts







Bond Street

John McAslan + Partners; engineer design WSP
Costain/Skanska JV

01 April 2011



£286M (277%)

Paddington Station

Weston Williamson; engineer design AECOM
Costain/Skanska JV

11 July 2011



£390M (215%)

Farringdon Station

AHR; engineer design AECOM
BAM Nuttall / Ferrovial Agroman (UK) / Kier Construction JV

23 November 2011



£395M (165%)

Whitechapel Station

BDP; engineer design Arcadis
Balfour Beatty Civil Engineering / Morgan Sindall / Vinci Construction UK JV

23 November 2011



£549M (499%)

Tottenham Court Road station

Hawkins\Brown; engineer design Arup/ Atkins
Laing O’Rourke Construction

22 June 2012



£184M (188%)

Liverpool Street Station

Wilkinson Eyre, engineer design Mott MacDonald
Laing O’Rourke Construction

01 March 2012



£227M (154%)

Woolwich Station

Weston Williamson; engineer design Arup
Balfour Beatty

09 September 2014



£164M (234%)

A revised timeline for the project was unveiled last week, with opening scheduled within a six month opening window set between October 2020 and March 2021.

Farringdon station curved glass fibre reinforced concrete panels line the platform tunnels june 2017 273071

Farringdon station curved glass fibre reinforced concrete panels line the platform tunnels june 2017 273071

Farringdon Station: curved glass fibre reinforced concrete panels line the platform tunnels, June 2017

Cost hikes on contracts relating to tunnelling, shafts and portals have also been reported. On the Eleanor Street and Mile End Shaft contract, carried out by a Costain/ Skanska JV, a 454 per cent increase has been recorded - with the cost of the project ballooning from £46 million to £255 million.

Big increases have also been revealed on the Western tunnels contract (£259 million over budget), Eastern tunnels (£226 million over budget) and the station tunnels east contract (£264 million over budget).

There has also been a £633 million estimated cost hike on the Systemwide (tunnel track and electrical fit-out) contract, which is now expected to cost £956 million.

NAO auditor general Amyas Morse said that the Crossrail Ltd’s ‘unrealistic’ ambition to stick to a December 2018 opening date led to ‘damaging’ cost hikes.

’Throughout delivery, and even as pressures mounted, Crossrail Ltd clung to the unrealistic view that it could complete the programme to the original timetable, which has had damaging consequences,’ Morse said.

’The Department for Transport and Transport for London (TfL) must support the new Crossrail Ltd executive team to get the railway built without unrealistic cost or time expectations.

’While we cannot make an overall assessment of value for money until Crossrail is complete, there have been a number of choices made in the course of this project that have clearly damaged public value.’ 

Tunnelling, systems and other civils contracts



(Dec 2018)


Eastern tunnels



£246M (51%)

Western tunnels



£259M (53%)

Thames tunnels



£33M (17%)

Station tunnels east



£264M (107%)

Pudding Mill Lane portal



£132M (254%)

Eleanor Street and Mile End shafts



£209M (454%)

Systemwide (Tunnel track and
electrical fit-out)



£633M (196%)

Crossrail Ltd chief executive Mark Wild said that he was taking the NAO report ‘very seriously’. 

He added: ’I share the frustration of Londoners that the huge benefits of the Elizabeth line are not yet with us. A new leadership team and enhanced governance structure has been put in place to strengthen the Crossrail programme and put the project back on track.

‘The new team has undertaken a detailed audit of the outstanding works and produced a robust and realistic plan to complete the Elizabeth line and bring the railway into passenger service at the earliest possible date.’

The NAO’s findings about management oversite echo the conclusions of a damning London Assembly Transport Committee report published last month. 

In response to the NAO’s report, Transport Committee deputy chair Caroline Pidgeon said: ’Going forward Crossrail, TfL and the mayor must be realistic, pragmatic and honest with themselves and Londoners about any issues that occur and deal with them accordingly. They should not be afraid to face the music if a big stumbling block threatens the timing of delivery.

‘Crossrail is a huge and complex project and it is understandable that not everything will go to plan. However, we must leave behind the days of chasing an opening date and focus on the successful delivery of a new line for Londoners.’


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