Millions more in public money ploughed into Crossrail

10 Dec 18

The Department for Transport has agreed to provide a £1.3bn loan to the Greater London Authority to meet the rising costs of delivering Crossrail.

The GLA will also commit a £100m cash contribution, which takes the total it has ploughed into the London network – also called the Elizabeth Line – up to £1.4bn.

New Crossrail chief executive Mark Wild confirmed that the proposed opening date of autumn 2018 – already postponed over three months ago from December 2018 – could “no longer be committed to at this stage”.

“Since I joined Crossrail in November I have been reviewing the work still required to complete the core stations and rail infrastructure and begin the critical safety testing,” Wild said.

“It is evident that there is a huge amount still to do. Stations are in varying stages of completion and we need time to test the complex railway systems.”

Wild said he and his team were working to establish a “robust and deliverable schedule” to provide a “safe and reliable service” to Londoners.

As the final costs of the project – which the government says should bring up to £42bn to the UK economy – are not known the DfT has agreed to loan TfL up to £750m in the event that further financing is required.

The overall funding envelope for the project is now £17.6bn. Reviews by accountancy firm KPMG found the delay to Crossrail is likely to add capital costs to the project of between £1.3bn and £1.7bn.

Then transport minister Jo Johnson announced a £350m bailout from central government for the rail line in October.  

Gareth Bacon, chair of the London Assembly’s budget and performance committee, said: “While Crossrail will one day prove a huge boon to the capital’s economy it is currently a drag and an embarrassment.

“We’re pleased this project has been kept afloat but deplore the failings that made such drastic remedial action necessary in the first place.”

The GLA intends to repay the government’s loan via London’s Business Rate Supplement and from the Mayoral Community Infrastructure Levy, transport minister Andrew Jones said.

“The government remains committed to the rapid completion of the project, in a way that is fair to UK taxpayers, and that enables London – as the primary beneficiary of Crossrail – to bear the additional costs,” Jones said.

He also said KPMG was carrying out independent reviews into Crossrail’s assessment of ongoing funding requirements and governance arrangements “to ensure the right scrutiny and oversight are in place as the project enters its final phase”.

The DfT and TfL have recommended to the Crossrail board they appoint Tony Meggs as chair, to replace Sir Terry Morgan, who resigned last week.

Meggs was previously chief executive of the Infrastructure and Projects Authority and head of the government’s Project Delivery Function, following a 30-year career in the private sector leading major projects at global, regional and local levels.

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