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NAO to investigate Crossrail delay and cost increases

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The National Audit Office (NAO) has announced it is to investigate the delay and cost increases on the £15.4bn Crossrail project.

The public scrutiny body will investigate the causes of the cost increases and schedule delays, the terms of the additional funding, and the governance and oversight of the programme.

It will also examine the steps being taken by Crossrail Ltd, Transport for London (TfL), and the Department for Transport (DfT) to minimise the impact of the cost increases and delays.

The Crossrail project, to be known as the Elizabeth Line, came under fire in August this year when it announced that the opening of the central section would be delayed from December 2018 to Autumn 2019.

As a precursor to this, in July, the government announced that the overall funding for the project had increased by £600M to £15.4bn. It then later agreed to make £350M of short term finance available to Crossrail Ltd.

Work to develop a full financing agreement continues between the government and the mayor of London.

On opening, the line will run in tunnel for 22km under central London from a portal west of Paddington to Whitechapel with further tunnelling to Stratford and Canary Wharf in the east. It will then emerge above ground with new rail services operating between Abbey Wood and Shenfield to the east of London, and Heathrow and Reading in the west.

A TfL spokesperson said: “We will fully assist the National Audit Office with its investigation into the Crossrail project, which is jointly sponsored by TfL and the DfT.”

The DfT added: “Crossrail, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Transport for London, is a world-class project that will transform journeys across the South East and add £42bn to the UK economy.  

“We welcome the NAO investigation and stand ready to assist.”

The investigation will follow an independent review, commissioned by the DfT and TfL and carried out by KPMG, into Crossrail Ltd’s governance and financing.

In October, New Civil Engineer exclusively revealed the timeline which was set out by Crossrail for the completion of the testing and remaining works.

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