Ever since news of Crossrail’s delayed opening emerged back in August, there’s been a concerted effort by City Hall and Transport for London to distance themselves from the problem, with senior figures and press releases shifting away from mentions of the ‘Elizabeth Line’ and ‘Crossrail’ in favour of the more formal ‘Crossrail Limited’ and a downplaying of the fact that Crossrail Limited, the company responsible for delivering the construction phase of the project, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of TfL.
Back when the project was only ever reported in glowing terms, TfL’s releases used to stress the connection between it and the construction venture by including lines such as:
“The Crossrail project is being delivered by Crossrail Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of TfL…”
But none of the press releases relating to Crossrail / the Elizabeth Line since August have included any such line. That includes the press issued today announcing that Tube boss Mark Wild “will join Crossrail Ltd as Chief Executive from Monday 19 November.”
But there’s another curious omission from this release which goes on to say:
“Mark Wild joins Crossrail Ltd from London Underground, where he has served as Managing Director since June 2016. He will return to his role at London Underground once the Elizabeth line has opened through central London. He will initially work alongside Simon Wright who will step down as Chief Executive of Crossrail Ltd later this year as planned.”
The release quotes Mike Brown, London’s Transport Commissioner, as saying: “The Elizabeth line is the single most significant addition to London’s transport infrastructure in a generation. It is absolutely vital that Crossrail Ltd completes the job of delivering it safely and reliably for London. Mark’s extensive knowledge and experience of delivering major signalling and systems integration projects will be vital for the final stages of the project.”
and, in the ‘Notes to Editors’, the release details Wild’s extensive previous experience as follows:
“Prior to joining London Underground as Managing Director, Mark Wild served as Special Advisor to the Minister and Secretary of the State Government of Victoria, Australia. Previously, he had been the Chief Executive of Public Transport Victoria, the integrated transport authority based in Melbourne, which serves a population of some six million people. He was also Managing Director of Westinghouse Signals, where he was responsible for successful integration projects such as the upgrade of the Victoria line for London Underground as well as the delivery of Communications-Based Train Control metro lines around the world, including the Downtown Line in Singapore, Airport Line in Taiwan and Line 5 in Beijing.”
Missing from these three extracts and indeed the entire release is any mention of the fact that Wild’s been a non-executive member of the Crossrail board since 2016.
It’s a very curious decision to flag up your new CEO’s experience of projects on the other side of the world but to omit any mention of his existing connection to, and knowledge of, the one he’s now taking day to day responsibility for.