The opening of Crossrail could be delayed for another two years as the transport project is thrown into a new crisis.
The opening of the new line, which will run east to west through central London, could now be 2021, three years later than originally projected. Europe’s largest infrastructure project, called the Elizabeth Line when services start, was due to open in December 2018.
The testing of the trains and signalling was “proving more difficult than was first thought”, a senior source told the BBC.
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“It all depends on how dynamic testing goes between now and the end of this year. The last quarter of this year will be a critical period for the testing,” the source added.
It’s believed that spring 2021 would be the worst case scenario, with the earliest opening date next spring.
The project is being delivered by Crossrail Ltd, part of Transport for London. The original budget was £15bn; the project is estimated to have gone around £3bn over budget so far.
The line will link Reading and Heathrow airport, west of the capital, with Shenfield in Essex and Abbey Wood in southeast London. At peak time, trains will run every 2.5 minutes between Paddington and Whitechapel.
Earlier this month, transport secretary Chris Grayling was lambasted by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) for “continual shortcomings” by his department.
The cross-party committee’s latest report, on the Crossrail fiasco, is scathing of the “project management and oversight of the railways” by the Department for Transport (DfT).
The PAC criticises “an overriding culture of over-optimism” on the completion of the east-west railway through central London. The MPs demand that the DfT “must urgently set out what consequences senior officials have faced for programme failures”.
A Crossrail spokesperson told The Independent: “
A spokesperson for Crossrail said: “London needs the Elizabeth line completed as quickly as possible and brought into service for passengers.
“We are working very hard to finalise our new plan to deliver the opening of the Elizabeth line at the earliest opportunity and we will be providing more details later this month.”
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