London transport bosses have vowed to press ahead with Crossrail 2, despite a delay of up to a year in the central London section of the original Crossrail line.
Transport for London (TfL) commissioner Mike Brown, Crossrail chief executive Simon Wright and chairman Sir Terry Morgan, along with London mayor Sadiq Khan, went before London Assembly members yesterday for a special session to question why Crossrail is delayed from its original December opening.
During questioning, Brown said he was “very confident” when asked whether TfL still planned to pay for half of Crossrail 2, the second Crossrail line planned to run from Surrey and South West London to North London and Hertfordshire via twin bored tunnels.
Brown said: “The report of the independent affordability review which was commissioned jointly by the mayor and the secretary of state looking into Crossrail 2 has pretty much finished its work, that will continue to be reviewed and looked at, but I am very confident that the need for Crossrail 2 is real and we will be able to continue to support its delivery with the mayor and our colleagues in the GLA.”
There is currently an independent funding review of the £31bn mega-project, which will report its findings shortly. Brown added that once people realise the success of the Elizabeth Line, there will be ‘‘clamour’’ for another line.
Khan was also questioned on whether the plan in his transport strategy to extend Crossrail from Abbey Wood in the south east to Ebbsfleet will be impacted by the delay.
He said: “Let’s wait and see what the plans are for stages 3, 4 and 5. Clearly the plans we have for other infrastructure projects we will continue working on. But our city is growing and I think that’s a sign people want to live in London.”
During the hearing yesterday morning, Assembly members heard how the electronic failure of the voltage transformers led to a delay in the dynamic testing of trains in Crossrail tunnels from October last year to February this year, which in turn kicked off the chain of delays which led to Crossrail’s opening being put back up to a year.
At this stage, Crossrail is trying to work out a revised schedule for final delivery. This is stages 4 and 5 which is joining up the surface sections with the tunnel sections in the east and the west. Stage 3 is the central London tunnel stage.
Crossrail chief executive Simon Wright said problems getting the three different signalling systems on the west, central and east parts of the scheme to co-ordinate was the major challenge for the scheme.
He said delay meant when dynamic testing did start, it was not as productive as hoped because of incomplete infrastructure and immature software systems which are “still in evolutionary stages”.
Wright added that although they had some “good days” on testing, which gave them optimism, by July they had to tell the board the extent of the problems and were asked to make an assessment and report back to an extraordinary meeting of the Crossrail board in August.
“When you’re in this situation you fight extraordinarily hard to maintain the schedule, because everybody knows how important it is,” he said. “In June we started to feel that we had a significant schedule challenge…. but still thought we could deliver by December.”
It wasn’t until the extraordinary meeting of the Crossrail board in August that the team finally admitted that they couldn’t deliver the line on time for the December 9 deadline.
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