Focus on delivery and get Crossrail back on track, says London assembly

The London assembly has called on Crossrail’s new management team to be “realistic, pragmatic and honest with themselves and Londoners”, and to “leave behind the days of chasing an opening date and focus on the successful delivery of a new line for Londoners".

A National Audit Office (NAO) report released earlier this month found that extra costs occurred on the Crossrail project because of a variety of issues, including a “fixation on the December 2018 opening date, which adversely influenced decisions.” 

The NAO findings reinforce the London assembly transport committee’s report Derailed: Getting Crossrail back on track, which analysed how a range of factors contributed to the delay, including an “obsession” with opening the new line last December.

Responding to the NAO’s report, Caroline Pidgeon, deputy chair of the London assembly transport committee, said: “This report from the NAO reinforces our findings that bad management of Crossrail caused huge damage. Our report also highlighted how the obsession with a December 2018 opening date clouded all judgement, despite red flags showing up as early as January 2018.

“Going forward Crossrail, TfL and the mayor must be realistic, pragmatic and honest with themselves and Londoners about any issues that occur and deal with them accordingly. They should not be afraid to face the music if a big stumbling block threatens the timing of delivery. Crossrail is a huge and complex project and it is understandable that not everything will go to plan. However, we must leave behind the days of chasing an opening date and focus on the successful delivery of a new line for Londoners."

The new team in charge of ensuring Crossrail opens as quickly as possible has provided a six-month opening window with the earliest date in October 2020 and the latest March 2021. Mark Wild, chief executive of Crossrail Ltd, said he “shared the frustration of Londoners” but was adamant that the revised schedule got the project back on track. Tony Meggs, chairman of Crossrail Ltd, on behalf of the board, promised to hold leadership to account and insisted they would be “open and transparent” about progress in the future.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “We now have a new Crossrail leadership team who have worked hard over recent months to establish a realistic and deliverable schedule for the opening of the project. With strengthened governance and scrutiny in place, TfL and the Department for Transport, as joint sponsors, will continue to hold the new leadership to account to ensure it is doing everything it can to open Crossrail safely and as soon as possible.”

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