Network Rail's Andrew Mitchell will deputise for chief executive and oversee programme delivery

Crossrail has appointed Network Rail’s Andrew Mitchell as programme director for the £15.9bn programme. Mitchell is currently in charge of the Thameslink programme. He will take over from Dr Graham Plant, interim programme director, later on in the year.

The programme director is responsible for ensuring that Crossrail’s programme partner and project delivery partner deliver the scheme on time and on budget. He will deputise for Rob Holden, chief executive, when necessary.

When it opens in 2017, Crossrail will connect Maidenhead in the west of London with Shenfield in the east via Heathrow Airport and Canary Wharf.

Work on the programme officially started on Friday when London Mayor Boris Johnson pressed a button which sank a pile into the Canary Wharf site.