It has been a challenging year for the Crossrail project. Since August 2018 when Crossrail Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Transport for London (TfL), announced that the opening of the Elizabeth Line through central London would be delayed, the project has been fully reviewed and reset.
Crossrail Ltd, TfL and the Department for Transport (DfT) have taken significant action in response to issues raised in the independent reviews by KPMG, as well as the reports from the National Audit Office, the Public Accounts Committee and the London Assembly’s Transport Committee. Lessons have been learned and Crossrail Ltd and both project sponsors, DfT and TfL, remain fully committed to the completion of the project which will transform London rail transport, and carry around 200 million passengers per year.
Actions taken this year have included:
The commissioning and completion of 2 wide ranging and detailed independent reviews into the project’s governance, commercial and financial agreements with all recommendations acted upon by June 2019.
The agreement in December 2018 to an additional £2.15 billion financing package to deliver the final stages of the project in a way that is fair to the UK taxpayer.
The appointment of a new executive leadership team within Crossrail Ltd, a review of the organisational structure to ensure maximum efficiency, and the strengthening of the Crossrail Board to ensure the right skills are in place right across the organisation and its Board. The announcement in April 2019 of a revised schedule which confirmed a 6 month window for delivery of the central tunnel section between Abbey Wood and Paddington (not including Bond Street), with a mid-point in December 2020, with more certainty to follow as testing progresses.
The publication in April 2019 of a joint report by the Department for Transport and the Infrastructure Projects Authority (IPA) on lessons learned from the sponsorship of major projects including Crossrail.
Despite the challenges, the project has seen some key achievements during this year. Main dynamic testing of the trains commenced in January, and Crossrail Ltd recently achieved a further milestone with the commencement of close-headway testing of multiple trains in June.
Fifteen new class 345 trains are in operation on the eastern and western parts of the route, building reliability and achieving a high standard of performance. Testing of the trains in the Heathrow tunnels is continuing and a TfL Rail service between Paddington and Reading is planned to commence in December of this year. This will be another important stepping stone to the opening of the full railway as soon as possible after the central section is completed.
The Network Rail (NR) on network works on the eastern and western sections of the Crossrail route are well advanced. Over the past year, work completed has included the installation of the steelwork for new accessible footbridges, stairs and lift shafts at Ealing Broadway, West Ealing and Acton Main Line. The contracts to build and upgrade 6 ticket halls between Acton Main Line and West Drayton have been awarded, and the new ticket halls at Forest Gate and Gidea Park have now opened to the public.
Updated costings for Network Rail’s programme show that the costs are now forecast at around £2.8 billion. The additional costs are the result of some work taking longer than planned and have been managed by Network Rail from within its own internal budgets. No further funding has been provided from Government, and this has not had an impact on any other programmes.