Explosion sets back Crossrail programme
An explosion at an electrical transformer in east London has caused testing delays on Crossrail, and there are now concerns that the £14.8bn project may overrun on cost and time.
The central section of the line, between Abbey Wood and Paddington, is due to open in December 2018.
But in a meeting with mayor of London Sadiq Khan and the Transport for London board on 30 January, Crossrail chairman Sir Terry Morgan said the project had experienced some “major setbacks” and was “very close” to exceeding its budget.
The explosion at Pudding Mill Lane in November has caused three months of delays.
Morgan said: “We opened up the energisation of the east side of the railway, which was always going to be our platform for testing the trains, in November. It’s a relatively standard bit of kit, it had two interfaces between our own power needs and Network Rail’s. It got switched on, and it exploded.”
The Crossrail chairman said engineers have had to investigate what caused the explosion and whether it could happen again.
“So that took a lot more work than we anticipated,” he added.
Morgan said that energising of the eastern section was scheduled to take place at the end of January, with testing of trains now set to start at the end of February.
Other issues that have dogged the project have included “difficult ground conditions” at Whitechapel Station.
On the question of cost and programme, Morgan said: “We are very close on the funding envelope, and we’re certainly going to have to continue to work together to make sure we get this railway running this year.
Mark Wild, London Underground managing director with responsibility for Crossrail, also appeared in front of Khan and the TfL transport board.
“We can still do it, but it’s very hard and complex and it brings with it cost pressures as well,” he said.