Crossrail will not open until 2021 and will run up to £650m over budget, transport bosses admitted today.
The long-awaited Elizabeth Line, which was originally due to open in December 2018, will not open until “as soon as practically possible in 2021”, Transport for London (TfL) said.
Crossrail chief executive Mark Wild said: “Our latest assessment is that the opening of the central section will not occur in 2020, which was the first part of our previously declared opening window.
“The Elizabeth line will open as soon as practically possible in 2021. We will provide Londoners with further certainty about when the Elizabeth line will open early in 2020.”
Wild, who took over at the helm of London’s troubled transport project last November, has previously only said Crossrail would open between October 2020 and March 2021.
The Elizabeth Line, the project’s official title, will provide an east-to-west rail service across London from Abbey Wood in the east to Heathrow in the west.
But today Wild warned technical issues and testing would delay Crossrail’s opening date until 2021.
“Crossrail Ltd will need further time to complete software development for the signalling and train systems and the safety approvals process for the railway,” he admitted.
He also warned that the latest estimates suggest Crossrail will run up to £650m over its revised budget.
The infrastructure scheme came off the tracks to blow its 2018 deadline, and then sailed past its rescheduled opening date of autumn 2019.
Wild said today that the Elizabeth Line has made good progress over recent months as engineers work to complete the tunnels and stations by the end of 2019.
“By the end of the year Custom House, Farringdon and Tottenham Court Road stations will be complete and the project is on track to finish fit-out of the tunnels in January,” Wild said.
“The central section will be substantially complete by the end of the first quarter in 2020, except for Bond Street and Whitechapel stations where work will continue.”
But he warned “programme risks and uncertainties” will mean Crossrail will blow its revised budget agreed in December by between £400m and £650m.
That could see the total cost of Crossrail breach the £18bn mark, after the total cost of the project rose from £14.8bn estimated in 2010 to £17.6bn.
“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,” Wild said today.
“These must be done to the highest quality standards to ensure reliability of the railway from day one of passenger service.
“Crossrail 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.”