Treasury agrees another Crossrail bail-out

Trial running is set to start ‘at the earliest opportunity in 2021’

“Securing this financial package means we can press full steam ahead with Crossrail,” mayor of London Sadiq Khan said. “I’ll do everything I can to minimise costs and make sure we can all reap the benefits of the Elizabeth Line sooner rather than later.”

Crossrail was supposed to have been completed in 2018 for less than £15bn. It will now be well into 2022 before the Elizabeth Rail train services will be running under London.

Crossrail Ltd announced in August that it expected the Elizabeth line to open through central London in the first half of 2022 and that it would require funding beyond the agreed funding envelope.

Last month London transport commissioner Andy Byford warned the Department for Transport (DfT), that if an additional funding deal was not secured soon “we will have no option but to mothball the project and to seek alternative governance for its eventual completion”.

However, the new money is a loan, not a grant. Londoners will have to pay it back to the Treasury, via London’s Business Rate Supplement and from the Mayoral Community Infrastructure Levy.

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Transport secretary Grant Shapps said: “The government remains committed to the rapid completion of the project, in a way that is fair to UK taxpayers and has committed to financing the completion of Crossrail. However, London – as the primary beneficiary – must ultimately bear any additional costs. Crossrail Ltd is committed to reducing its funding shortfall and will take all necessary steps to complete the project without requiring further additional funding. Transport for London (TfL) is ensuring that further independent analysis of costs is carried out.”

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “This is another example of London supporting the country way over and above the help we get from this government. I do not want this project to be stalled so it is vital that we dig deep to get the railway up and running. I will continue to monitor progress closely and do everything I can to minimise costs – helping ensure London and beyond can enjoy its many benefits sooner rather than later.”

Andy Byford, London’s transport commissioner, said: “I have been very clear that it is my priority to get the railway open as soon as possible and all those working on the Crossrail project are focused on that too. Confirming this financing is an essential step in ensuring the team can fully concentrate on safely delivering the Elizabeth line, which is so vital for boosting rail capacity and supporting the economy.”

Mark Wild, chief executive of Crossrail Ltd, added: “Delivery of the Elizabeth line is now in its complex final stages. Good progress continues to be made with completing the remaining infrastructure works so that we begin intensive operational testing, known as trial running, at the earliest opportunity in 2021. Many of the stations are now nearing completion and we will shortly commence an enabling phase for trial running which allows testing in the tunnels to be undertaken with an increased number of trains, further helping to build operational reliability. We are doing everything possible to deliver the Elizabeth line as safely and quickly as we can.”

Governance of the Crossrail project transferred to TfL in October. A special purpose committee of the TfL board, called the Elizabeth Line committee, provides oversight of the project and met for the first time place last week. The project remains a jointly sponsored by TfL and the DfT and an independent DfT representative attends the committee meetings. 

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