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Fight to defend Crossrail

Backers of mega-project Crossrail were this week steeling themselves for a fight against potential cuts to its £15.9bn budget.

London mayor Boris Johnson led the lobbying last Friday at a meeting with new transport secretary Philip Hammond.

Meanwhile, work is continuing behind the scenes to try and shave money off the project to ensure it remains an attractive scheme to a cost-cutting government.

Hammond had demanded a meeting with Johnston to seek assurances that all value engineering options were being exhausted (News last week).

Crossrail sources said Johnson left the meeting “looking pretty chipper” and his transport adviser Kulveer Ranger said the mayor had “enjoyed a constructive discussion” with Hammond.

“The mayor is confident that the transport secretary is aware of the immense importance of continued investment in London’s transport infrastructure,” he added.

Hammond, however, said that while he agreed with the ­importance of transport infrastructure he would continue to focus on affordability.

“Clearly, our challenge is to deliver the Crossrail project at the lowest possible cost to the taxpayer,” Hammond said. “I look forward to working closely with the mayor to ensure that we get maximum value for every pound of taxpayers’ money spent on the project.”

Consultants are in the midst of looking at ways to claw back costs from its scope, risk, programme and procurement.

The project is understood to be looking to shave money from the scheme through changes in design and re-evaluating the procurement strategy to take out some contingency.

Other work to minimise costs has been taking place behind the scenes over the past few months.

Designers have been re-examining the scope to ensure unnecessary and costly items are eliminated before construction (NCE 11 March).

Crossrail chief executive Rob Holden has maintained that he intends to bring the scheme in well under the £15.9bn price tag.

Readers' comments (3)

  • The decision taken previously to construct Crossrail was previously based on carefully considered studies and analysis. The benefits have been shown to more than outweigh the costs.
    We should stop procrastination and get on with construction without the threat of cutting back on parts or all of this challenging project.Many jobs are dependent upon this project and the costs associated with cancelling this project are massive when unemployment costs are considered.
    A large sum of money has already been spent and if the decision is taken to stop further construction then considerable additional sums will have to be spent. The political backlash against stopping Crossrail will be enormous and the confidence of the construction industry in this country will take a severe knock. We have a very good record of delivering large projects within proper time and finacial restraints, such as for example Terminal 5, CTRL and the Olympics structures.
    Lets stop messing around and lets prove that we can deliver large projects within time and financial restraints.

    Derek Godfrey

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  • Chris O'Hanlon

    I have no doubt that amongst cost saving measures, someone will suggest deferring the construction of one or more stations. Given that stations are a major part of the project cost, this is a tempting strategy. However, the cost of trying to build a sub surface station after trains start to run could be as much as the budget forseveral of the central area stations put together. One way to defer expenditure would be to build the station tunnels during the main contract and then build the escalators and ticket halls later. This was done at Pimlico station on the Victoria line in the 1970s.

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    Stratford International was built for Eurostar and they won't even stop there!. Waterloo Inrternational was bulit and now lies abandoned. Ashford and Ebbsfleet white elephants, empty for 99 % of the week. HS1 trains break down twice a week. The Channel Tunnel, CTRL, Eurostar, HS1 have all been unprofitable, costing the taxpayer billions.

    Crossrail is something that someone wants, not something we need for exporting.

    It should be built by 100 % private investment or not at all.

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