Crossrail Ltd has announced that London’s mult-billion pound project will not open as scheduled in December, with expectant commuters in the capital now having to wait until autumn next year.
Simon Wright, Crossrail chief executive, has said the organisation needs “further time to complete the testing of the new railway” to ensure a “safe and reliable railway” is delivered.
Services were due to begin running by the end of the year, but the central section between Paddington and Abbey Wood will not be opened until autumn 2019.
The project is running almost £600m over budget with extra funding required to complete the work, with rail minister Jo Johnson announcing last month that the scheme’s budget had been increased from £14.8bn to 15.4bn due to “cost pressures”.
In March, Crossrail drew up a revised delivery schedule to try ensure Europe’s largest infrastructure project met December’s key deadline as Transport for London (TfL) board papers revealed that a “significant amount of work remains” despite 90% of the network being completed at the time.
Testing problems and design issues have been highlighted this year as the main reasons for a revised delivery schedule. In February, it was revealed an “explosion” during the powering up of a new sub-station on the Crossrail network had pushed back plans by three months. It occurred during testing last November at a sub-station at Pudding Mill Lane as engineers attempted to energise the system.
Commenting on the delay, Crossrail chief, Wright, said: “The Elizabeth line is one of the most complex and challenging infrastructure projects ever undertaken in the UK and is now in its final stages. We have made huge progress with the delivery of this incredible project but we need further time to complete the testing of the new railway. We are working around the clock with our supply chain and Transport for London to complete and commission the Elizabeth line.”
When eventually opened, the network will connect stations such as Paddington to Canary Wharf in only 17 minutes, transforming how Londoners and visitors move across the capital. The Elizabeth line is said to bring an extra 1.5 million people to within 45 minutes of central London and more than 200 million passengers are expected to use it every year.