April could prove to be a pivotal month in the long running Crossrail saga with the future set to become a lot clearer with a high-level plan of expected completion unveiled.
In the latest Transport for London (TfL) board papers, the organisation claim the plan will “chart the course for Elizabeth line services to commence through central London as early as possible”. The update would provide a welcome relief for all those in charge of bringing the rail line into service.
However, the latest update provides some bleak financial reading for TfL with the delay to Crossrail expected to cost £600 in revenue. This loss could even still rise and will be revised once a full timetable is confirmed.
TfL say it “continues to work hard on reducing the financial and customer impact of the delayed opening of the central section” and bosses are assuming the implementation of Stage 5a - taking over services from Paddington to Reading – will go ahead from December 2019.
Crossrail also hopes to put an end to the upheaval in high-level management over the last 18 months with a new leadership team now established. Working with the organisation’s COO and CFO, it’s hoped that a new programme director and technical director will help identify an opening window for the central section while keeping a stringent eye on cost control.
Updates on progress or bumps in the road will be improved with 14 visual management centres across the project. When fully implemented, TfL say each project leadership team will meet daily to flag their top issues and these will come to director level on a weekly basis.
On the new management structure, the board papers state: “This significantly changes the dynamic of the project from a periodic rhythm to a daily/weekly one. The result should be better reporting, clearer understanding of issues, quicker resolution and greater accountability at all levels.”
The papers also shine some light on the well-publicised delay to station completion. TfL say further work has been undertaken to gain clarity on completion dates on stations, shafts and portals which are critical before any trial operations and passenger services.
At two of the most advanced stations; Tottenham Court Road and Farringdon, teams have started testing and commissioning and are “completing the final fit-out”. While at Paddington and Bond Street there is still mechanical and electrical installation fit-out work underway.
Concerns also surround safety as dynamic testing continues on the line. Board papers reveal an increase in the number of “reported near misses and accidents”. While health and safety performance is said to still remain good, each of these incidents will be investigated.
Finally, TfL reveal it is “reviewing how lessons from the Crossrail project can be applied to the rest of the investment portfolio”. This includes Crossrail 2, which is said to have already incorporated many of the principles in its assurance process.