Crossrail Delay: Line will not open until 2021 as costs increase
The opening of London’s Crossrail project will be delayed until 2021 as Europe’s biggest infrastructure project is set to go another £650 million over budget.
The route, to be known as the Elizabeth Line, was due to open in December 2018.
Crossrail Ltd chief executive Mark Wild said services would be delayed to allow time for more testing.
He also said the cost of the project could reach £18.25bn, an increase of £650m on the previously agreed total.
The budget was originally set at £15.9bn for the scheme, which will connect major landmarks such as Heathrow Airport and the Canary Wharf business district.
However, the Mayor Sadiq Khan, the Government and Transport for London (TfL) had since agreed a figure of £17.6bn.
Bosses said in April that services would begin between October 2020 and March 2021.
Announcing the latest delay, Mr Wild insisted services would begin “as soon as practically possible in 2021”.
He added: “The central section will be substantially complete by the end of the first quarter in 2020, except for Bond Street and Whitechapel stations where work will continue.
“We will provide Londoners with further certainty about when the Elizabeth line will open early in 2020.”
The delay will allow more time to complete software development and allow safety systems to be tested.
Tom Edwards, BBC London Transport Correspondent
Just weeks ago I spoke to businesses up and down the Crossrail line and there was very little confidence with anything they were being told by the company.
Well they were right. We are getting a drip drip of delay and uncertainty.
Crossrail’s hopeful “opening window” of between Oct 2020 and March 2021 just got slammed shut. Now it’ll open “as soon as possible in 2021”.
This has gone beyond embarrassing into the ridiculous.
And then there’s the extra cost. I suspect that will again come from London businesses through the precept, which was meant to be earmarked for other transport projects like the second phase of Crossrail.
Yes, this will be an incredible project when it’s finished. But at the moment businesses will despair.
The line will make use of some existing track, but involves 26 miles of new tunnels connecting Paddington and Liverpool Street stations to improve rail capacity crossing the capital.
Mr Khan said he was “deeply frustrated” by the new delay.
A spokesman for the Mayor said “Further work is taking place immediately to assess Crossrail’s latest cost estimates.
“TfL and the Department for Transport, as joint sponsors, will continue to hold the Crossrail leadership to account to ensure it is doing everything it can to open Crossrail safely and as soon as possible.”
An estimated 200 million passengers will use the new underground line annually, increasing central London rail capacity by 10% – the largest increase since World War Two.
Crossrail says the new line will connect Paddington to Canary Wharf in 17 minutes.
In May, Crossrail was criticised by the National Audit Office for running late and over budget, suggesting that bosses had clung to an unrealistic opening date.
A TfL spokesman called the delay “disappointing”.
In a statement TfL said: “It is only over the last year that the new Crossrail leadership has established the full complexity of finishing the software development and signalling systems, while getting the necessary safety approvals to complete the railway.
“Full testing is due to get underway next year and there can be no shortcuts on this hugely complex project.”