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Ex-Crossrail chair blames 'difficult' contractors for delay

Crossrail tcr

Former Crossrail chair Sir Terry Morgan has blamed “difficult“ contractors for delays and cost overruns to the project.

Giving evidence to the Public Accounts Committee, Morgan said that “contractors did not deliver” when under pressure to meet the initial December 2018 deadline and were ultimately to blame for the project’s £2.8bn cost increase.

Morgan resigned from his position after the project delay was belatedly announced in August last year, just four months before it was scheduled to open. A new management team led by Mark Wild has since announced a revised six-month opening window between October 2020 and March 2021.  

However, Morgan has defended the decision not to move the opening date sooner, claiming that doing so would have taken the pressure off contractors and would have resulted in even longer delays. 

“We were putting a lot of pressure on the supply chain to deliver […] they did not,” Morgan said. “One of the risks you take when you move the date is the pressure comes off of the supply side to deliver their promises and getting them back to the pace we were looking for would be very difficult.”  

He added: “The behaviour of one of the contractors was very difficult.

“Independent reports were always shared with the sponsors. There were one or two issues in there, with at least one [issue] being [about] the behaviour of one of our contractors. They are still not behaving as I would want them too.

“When I met with the key contractors, who are still causing problems, two of them asked what they could do to, my answer was: ‘get it done’. There was always a gap between ambition and what got delivered on the ground.”  

In January, New Civil Engineer revealed that lucrative one-off payments were being thrown at contractors to incentivise them to “pick up the pace” of works at all remaining Crossrail stations. 

Other Crossrail bosses have blamed a labour shortage in the capital for delays to the project, including workers downing tools to go and work on the now complete Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. 

Costs on the project have rapidly spiralled out of control, with hikes up to 500% of the original target cost reported on tunnelling contracts as well as significant increases in route-wide civil engineering and systems integration contracts. 

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Readers' comments (2)

  • Oh, wonderful! ….if in doubt, blame the contractor! So much for "partnerships" in the construction industry.

    Mike Paul
    (retired - after 40 years in contracting)

    Stuttgart, Germany

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Same comment as Mike Paul, blame the poor contractors who have to turn dreams into reality for minimum money!!! Retired after 43 years getting kicked!

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