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Spending watchdog says Crossrail is on schedule

Crossrail is on track to be delivered on time and on budget, according to a report published last week by government’s spending watchdog the National Audit Office (NAO).

The report concludes that if progress can be maintained and risks managed then the programme will deliver value for money.
The NAO completed its assessment in September 2013. At that time about half of the infrastructure work was complete and progress was just behind schedule.

It says 43.7% of Crossrail infrastructure work is complete against a target of 45.2%.

But the NAO said it was satisfied that client Crossrail Limited was working to improve progress against schedule.
Crossrail Ltd tracks its progress on a Schedule Performance Index (SPI), which provides a measure of work completed against work planned. It takes no account of any float in the programme. The SPI is 1 if the programme is exactly on schedule and above 1 if it is ahead of schedule.

Construction phase

The index has been below 1 throughout the construction phase, but has gradually risen from 0.94 to 0.98.

Crossrail chief executive Andrew Wolstenholme told NCE that he was comfortable with the NAO’s observations and that since September progress had accelerated.

“The NAO looked at the early productivity curve with tunnelling. If you look at our productivity now, we can offer levels of certainty that are unusual in this industry. I can categorically say that this project is on time and on budget.”

The NAO agreed that forecast costs were within the available funding budget of £14.8bn.

“The sponsors and Crossrail Limited have so far done well to protect taxpayers’ interests, by taking early action to stop costs escalating and, during construction, tightly managing the programme,” said NAO comptroller and audtor general Amyas Morse.


Crossrail reading extension still on the cards

The Department for Transport (DfT), Transport for London, Crossrail Limited and Network Rail are still considering whether to extend the western section of Crossrail beyond Maidenhead to Reading.
The possibility of the extension emerged during the NAO’s investigation into the scheme.

The DfT originally decided not to run Crossrail services to Reading, mainly because of the additional cost of electrifying a significant section of the Great Western Mainline, and the need to improve stations of the line.

Since then, the government has announced separate funding to electrify the Great Western mainline and to upgrade stations, including Reading.

As a result the DfT expects that extending Crossrail to Reading would result in a slight reduction in the cost of the construction part of theCrossrail programme because some works at Slough and Maidenhead would no longer be required.

A decision is expected soon.

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