Newly-published board papers reveal that the mayor of London and Transport for London (TfL) were made aware of serious concerns surrounding Crossrail’s opening date in July – a month before the decision to postpone the opening was made official.
On 26 July, the former Crossrail chair Sir Terry Morgan said the scheduled stage 3 December opening was at “high risk” due to the late start of dynamic testing following the voltage transformer failure in November 2017, challenges to completing fit-out, testing and commission of the routeway, rolling stock was less tested and stable than planned for and insufficient testing time remained.
The presentation given by Crossrail on the day is shown to provide three scenarios should a December 2018 opening prove impossible - the worst case scenario being that if all risks are realised, an opening date of August 2019 is achievable.
However, the mayor of London’s office has responded by saying Sadiq Khan is verbally briefed by Crossrail that it would be well before the worst case scenario date. Those within the office say the briefing makes it clear that separate options for a partial or sectional opening are judged “not feasible” if a full opening were to be ruled out.
A month later on 29 August, it is revealed the Crossrail board holds a special meeting to consider schedule options and conclude that December 2018 is not achievable for the opening of the central section.
The mayor’s office also say this is the first time that they are made aware that Crossrail definitely cannot deliver the proposed December opening date for the central section. That evening, Mark Wild, who at that time was a TfL representative on the Crossrail Board is said to “informally notify” the deputy mayor for transport and the mayor’s chief of staff of the board’s decision.
It is just a few days later on 31 August that Crossrail Ltd issue the press release which publicly announces schedule delay to autumn 2019. Khan then meets with Morgan and the former chief executive of Crossrail Simon Wright on 3 September to understand their decision and new programme first hand.
On Monday, TfL confirmed a new financing agreement with the government to deliver the final stages of Crossrail, revealing that the delayed project is now expected to cost a further £1.6bn to £2bn. The new Crossrail chief executive also revealed that he didn’t know when the project would be finished because there is much more work left to complete than originally thought.