Crossrail bosses have announced further delays to the troubled rail link which they say will now not open until at least 2021.
Originally due to open in December 2018, the railway is now severely over budget and its delayed opening is having a significant negative impact on Transport for London’s already under pressure finances due to the loss of fares and commercial income.
In a statement Crossrail says its latest assessment “is that the opening of the central section will not occur in 2020 which was the first part of the previously declared opening window.”
“The Elizabeth line will open as soon as practically possible in 2021. A more comprehensive update is expected early in 2020.”
Chief Executive Mark Wild said: “The two critical paths for the project remain software development for the signalling and train systems, and the complex assurance and handover process for the railway; both involve safety certification for the Elizabeth line.
“These must be done to the highest quality standards to ensure reliability of the railway from day one of passenger service.
“Crossrail Ltd will need further time to complete software development for the signalling and train systems and the safety approvals process for the railway. The Trial Running phase will begin at the earliest opportunity in 2020, this will be followed by testing of the operational railway to ensure it is safe and reliable.”
Wild also revealed that the project will need “between £400 million to £650 million” in additional funding on top of the extra money already agreed by Mayor Sadiq Khan, Transport for London and central Government last December.
Reacting to today’s news, Federation of Small Businesses chair Mike Cherry said: “Another delay to Crossrail is disappointing to see and will leave a sour taste in the mouths of businesses and commuters who had been preparing for the start of the service in 2020.
“This delay is fast-becoming a national embarrassment.
“Small businesses along the route of the Elizabeth Line, from Berkshire to Essex and across London, have long been preparing for the start of the service in early 2020.
“This delay means another year of extra construction costs, another year of lost revenues and another year of strains on an already bursting public transport system.”
Caroline Pidgeon, Liberal Democrat London Assembly Member, said the latest delay was “appalling news for Londoners.”
She added: “The delay creates huge issues for many businesses that have made investment decisions based on its original opening date of December 2018. The delay in Crossrail opening will also put back further investment in London’s transport network and create further havoc to TfL’s finances.
“This also damages the hopes of Crossrail 2 getting started in the next decade”.