Crossrail construction costs went £73M over budget for the six months till mid-September because of delays and design changes, according to Transport for London (TfL) financial papers released this week.
While the financial report compares current costs to the 2017/18 budget approved by TfL in March, it shows that in just four weeks (ending 16 September) construction costs jumped by £14M. However Crossrail says that overall the project is financially on target and temporary variances to the approved budget are to be expected when managing a huge scheme.
Changes to the scope and design of the systemwide main works are partly to blame, according to the papers, while delays to Whitechapel station improvements and Woolwich station works added financial pressure.
Part of the £73M shortfall was offset by savings made at Tottenham Court Road station, as Crossrail is no longer responsible for planned development above the station.
“The Elizabeth line is being delivered within its available funding. The TfL finance report refers to Crossrail’s actual expenditure compared to forecast expenditure as estimated in the Business Plan, which is set annually at the start of each financial year,” said a spokesperson for Crossrail.
“Variances are expected as the business plan naturally contains a number of assumptions, such as the timing and scope of work, which result in both over and underspend throughout the year.”
Rail costs in general for TfL are 20% lower than budgeted because several payments have been pushed back: the Barking to Gospel Oak electrification scheme for example is now 11 months behind schedule.
Crossrail construction is 87% complete, in September the final piece of track for the Elizabeth Line was laid. By December 2018 the line will be running between Paddington and Abbey Wood, Liverpool Street and Shenfield and between Paddington and Heathrow, while full services will be up and running by the end of 2020.
Funding concerns have already hit plans for Crossrail 2. Yesterday (Wednesday 8) it was revealed that plans for the line have been reworked in an attempt to make the £31bn scheme more affordable.
In July the Department for Transport (DfT) told mayor of London Sadiq Khan that the capital must pay half the costs during construction, which could push Crossrail 2 back until the 2040s.