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Crossrail could face £5bn cut

28 May 2010

The government is considering making up to £4-5bn of cuts to the £16.9bn Crossrail scheme, Building reported.

An internal Crossrail team, under instruction from ministers to save money,  understood to be considering drastic action.

Options under consideration include dropping one of the planned central London stations, dropping or reducing some spurs outside central London, including the link to Canary Wharf and Abbey Wood in the east, and Maidenhead in the west.

Reducing the trains from 12 to 10 carriages, decreasing the size of stations, is also being considered while the rest of the project is subject to wide-ranging value engineering.

Building reported that a source close to the process said: “The team is being asked to look at the whole scheme. If you took out both spurs and reduced the platforms and stations then they’re looking at £4-5 billion of cuts.”

Last week London mayor Boris Johnson said Crossrail had to mount a “Stalingrad defence” to guarantee funding for the original scheme.

Stephen Norris, former Tory MP and Transport for London board member, said he believed that axing a station and the spurs was being looked at.

He said: “If you’re going to cut Abbey Wood or Maidenhead you might as well shelve the whole lot. It only makes sense to dig the tunnel if you do the whole scheme. It’s like planning to buy a new car without an engine.”

However, another Crossrail source, speaking to the Construction Enquirer website, said that cuts amounted to “value-engineering”. The source said: “It hardly makes sense to build a new route but not major stations along it – where would people get on and off? Reports that £5bn could be cut look well wide of the mark – that is nearly a third of the project cost.”

A Crossrail spokesperson said the organisation “constantly makes efforts towards value management and value engineering to achieve maximum value for money”, but declined to comment on specific cutbacks.

It is also understood that Network Rail is examining the implications of dropping plans for the £3 bn remodelling of London Bridge station, which is the next phase of the £5.5 bn Thameslink programme. This is in addition to £100 m of cuts that Network Rail was asked to make this week.

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