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Crossrail 2 funding pot diverted to complete Elizabeth line

Crossrail

The deputy mayor of London has admitted that money set aside to develop Crossrail 2 will be used to complete the original Crossrail route with Transport for London (TfL) forecasting no income from the Elizabeth Line for the next 18 months.

At a London Assembly Budget and Performance Committee, deputy mayor Heidi Alexander said a proportion of the funding set aside for the construction of Crossrail 2 would be used to complete the unfinished Elizabeth Line.

Alexander said the money would be drawn from the Mayoral Community Infrastructure Levy (MCIL) and the business rates supplement (BRS) which had been earmarked to fund Crossrail 2.

“For a limited part of time we would be using what would have gone into the Crossrail 2 pot to pay for the remaining work that needs to be done on Crossrail 1,” she said. “Clearly the priority is to get Crossrail finished.”

In August last year, it was announced that the opening of the central section of the Elizabeth Line was being delayed from its December 2018 date. In December last year, accountancy firm KPMG concluded that the cost of the Crossrail delay is likely to be between £1.6bn and £2bn.

The figures were reported as part of an announcement made by the mayor of London that the Greater London Authority (GLA) and Transport for London (TfL) had confirmed a financing package with the government for the final stages of the Crossrail project.

A revised opening date has been provisionally set for autumn this year. But in the meeting, TfL chief financial officer Simon Kilonback said in its latest business plan it was not anticipating a revenue income from the new Elizabeth Line until mid 2020, 18 months after the initial central tunnel opening date.

However he said the 18 month allowance was not based on a published opening date, rather a “pessimistic” view based on a number of scenarios both it and Crossrail Ltd had analysed.

“We’ve [TfL] adopted cautious financial planning assumptions that passenger revenues will be approximately £600M lower over the business plan period,” said Kilonback. “This is based on the modelling of various scenarios of the remaining stages of delays up to 18 months and again this is not our assumption of the opening date, it’s a cautious financial planning assumption.”

To try to mitigate the loss in revenue, Brown said options to open the Reading to Paddington section of the Elizabeth Line prior to the central section being opened were being looked at.

Brown also said that the additional £2bn handed over to complete the project would be sufficient and only a “catastrophic” unforeseen event would mean that the new budget was exceeded. He said new Crossrail chief executive Mark Wild had been in discussions with the tier one contractors to ensure they now had a good idea of the cost of finishing construction as this was where the bulk of the cost was.

Plans that a hybrid Bill for Crossrail 2 would be submitted this year as anticipated were also dashed as both TfL commissioner Mike Brown and Alexander stated this would not be so.

In his statement, Brown said that it was assumptions made in the new business plan would be subject to the spending review. At present a strategic business case for the new line is scheduled to be submitted at the end of April followed by a safeguarding consultation at the end of May. This would then lead he said to a hybrid Bill being submitted in January 2020, just after the 2019 date.

Alexander then went on to say her “honest answer” on whether the Bill would be submitted was “no”.

“The clear priority is to agree a route between the mayor and the secretary of state and whether that route is completed in full or phases what the funding and financing package would be,” she said. “I think getting any legislation through parliament at the moment is somewhat an understatement to say it’s a challenge given that it’s being paralysed by Brexit at the current time, so I don’t think it’s likely that you’ll see a hybrid bill in 2019.”

The knock-on effect on Crossrail has also hit other TfL projects including the capacity upgrade at Camden Town station. Procurement for upgrade works at Camden Town station as well as works along the Piccadilly line will be “discontinued”, according to Transport for London’s (TfL) five-year business plan. A £136M capacity upgrade is planned for the north London station, with signalling upgrades due to take place on the Piccadilly line.

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