Adrian Lyons, director general of the Railway Forum, says we need 'civil engineers to come up and find ways of building this thing (Crossrail) more cheaply' (NCE last week).
Possibly. But the Crossrail team has some pretty experienced engineers, and it seems unlikely that big savings are left to be found.
Contractors may find clever ways to build it, but experience shows that costs are more likely to go up rather than down during implementation. What is required - if the scheme is to attract credible funding - is to cut out the elements of the scheme that are not worthwhile.
According to data Superlink obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, Whitechapel Station, at £320M, and the entire Shenfield Branch, at £1.5bn, are not worth building.
They increase the funding gap by about £1bn, and squander capacity of the expensive cross-London tunnel that could be more usefully used for additional trains to the growth areas and Stansted.
Construction will needlessly disrupt communities while actually lengthening rail journeys for thousands of passengers. It is planners, not engineers, who need to work smarter to make the scheme fundable.
org. uk Superlink Ltd, 1 Fleet Place, London EC4M 7NR