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Crossrail | Overspend triggers MPs’ demands for greater clarity

Crossrail

Just as Crossrail’s fortunes looked like changing, the most damning of assessments has been laid at its door.

Crossrail bosses had reason to be relatively upbeat this month as plans for an extension to Ebbsfleet were buoyed by the release of almost £5M in government cash for the route’s development, and Transport for London tied up a deal to sell and lease back Crossrail trains, freeing up £1bn in transport cash.

But if Crossrail has taught us anything, it is to remain pessimistic.

A report by the House of Commons public accounts committee has accused bosses at the Department for Transport (DfT) and Crossrail Ltd of having a “laissez-fair” attitude to the project’s overspend and demanded they reveal exactly how an additional £2.8bn of funding will be used to complete the line.

The committee also revealed that it was “sceptical” that the project will be delivered by the revised 2020 completion date and added that it was “not convinced […] that the additional £2.8bn of funding provided will be enough”.

In July 2018 the government announced an additional £590M of funding for the programme. After further cost increases and delays, in December 2018 the government announced £2.15bn of additional funding, bringing the total budget to £17.6bn.

Consequently, the committee has demanded to see exactly how the extra funding will be spent to ensure the project remains “value for money”.

The committee also criticises the DfT and Crossrail Ltd for failing to take responsibility for “the costs of this project [being] allowed to spiral out of control”, as well as slamming both for being “unable to identify the root causes of the programme unravelling so quickly and so disastrously”. 

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