Crossrail needs another £650m and delayed till 2021

8 November 2019 | By Neil Gerrard

Crossrail chief executive Mark Wild

Crossrail will need between £400m to £650m more than the revised funding package it agreed in December 2018, as it confirmed that the central section of the line will not happen before 2021.

In an update on the progress of the delayed Elizabeth Line, Crossrail chief executive Mark Wild said that the project needed more time to complete software development for the signalling and train systems and the safety approvals for the railway.

The news means that the cost of Crossrail could now reach £18.25bn, against an original £15.9bn budget. That was later increased to £17.6bn in an agreement between Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, the government and Transport for London late last year.

The central section of the Elizabeth Line was originally due to open in December 2018 but it became clear last year that the project was running behind schedule. Wild then set a window for the opening of the line, between October 2020 and March 2021.

In a progress update today, Wild said the Elizabeth Line would open “as soon as practically possible” in 2021.

He said: “A key focus during 2019 has been finalising the stations, tunnels, portals and shafts. By the end of the year, Custom House, Farringdon and Tottenham Court Road stations will be complete and the project is on track to finish fit-out of the tunnels in January. The central section will be substantially complete by the end of the first quarter in 2020, except for Bond Street and Whitechapel stations where work will continue.

“The two critical paths for the project remain software development for the signalling and train systems, and the complex assurance and handover process for the railway; both involve safety certification for the Elizabeth line. These must be done to the highest quality standards to ensure reliability of the railway from day one of passenger service.

“Crossrail Ltd will need further time to complete software development for the signalling and train systems and the safety approvals process for the railway. The Trial Running phase will begin at the earliest opportunity in 2020, this will be followed by testing of the operational railway to ensure it is safe and reliable.

“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. The Elizabeth line will open as soon as practically possible in 2021. We will provide Londoners with further certainty about when the Elizabeth line will open early in 2020.

"Our detailed cost forecasts continue to show that the project’s costs will increase due to programme risks and uncertainties. The latest projections indicate a range of between £400 million to £650 million more than the revised funding agreed by the Mayor, Government and Transport for London in December 2018.

“We are doing everything we can to complete the Elizabeth line as quickly as we can but there are no short-cuts to delivering this hugely complex railway. The Elizabeth line must be completed to the highest safety and quality standards.”


If the software wasn’t developed why was the design accepted? The previous board of directors have earned a fortune on this project as have Bechtel, as they are providing most of the highly paid consultants for this project. This project is turning into an embarrassing farce led by egotistical designers and engineers that refused to listen to London Underground and Network Rail resident engineers, who know a bit about how a railway is built, operated and maintained. How much will it cost therefore to maintain this software and the systems (yet to be developed) operating the railway? They just don’t know and the figure is a guesstimate and an embarrassment to the industry.

Craig Edwards , 11 November 2019

If construction commenced ten years ago, why do they still have to 'complete software development' for signalling and train systems?

I can understand that train systems could only be fully developed in conjunction with the manufacturer once the contract for the rolling stock was awarded, but signalling software can be modeled well in advance and should have been ready for last year. Similar systems are already installed on Thameslink (both of these systems being a radical departure from previous signalling systems on UK railways).

While previously Crossrail has been trumpeted as a huge triumph of engineering, it would appear that it has been let down by basic failures in project management.

Ian Watts, 11 November 2019

I live near Custom House which with regard to the station has been finished for ages. Passing by you can see the installed escalators all wrapped up and even the platform signs are functioning saying when trains are due. The big problem I see here is that everything installed will be out of warranty by the time it gets fully used. More costs to come then !

G Jones, 12 November 2019

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