Central London station and two spurs face the axe as project team works to cut £5bn from budget

The government is considering making £4-5bn of cuts to the £16.9bn Crossrail scheme, as the scale of capital spending cuts starts to emerge.
An internal Crossrail team, under instruction from ministers to save money on the scheme, is understood to be considering dropping either the planned Tottenham Court Road or Bond Street station.

All the options under consideration include:

  • Dropping one of the planned central London stations
  • Dropping or reducing some spurs outside central London, including the link to Canary Wharf and Abbey Wood in the east, and Maidenhead in the west
  • Reducing the trains from 12 to 10 carriages, thereby minimising the size of stations
  • Wide-ranging value engineering for the rest of the project.

A source close to the process said: “The team is being asked to look at the whole scheme. If you took out both spurs and reduced the platforms and stations then they’re looking at £4-5bn of cuts.”

London mayor Boris Johnson last week said Crossrail had to mount a “Stalingrad defence” to guarantee funding for the original scheme.
Stephen Norris, former Tory MP and Transport for London board member, said he believed axing a central station and the spurs were being looked at. “The government needs to understand the difference between the kind of spending that fills ad pages in the Society Guardian and genuine investment in the country.

“If you’re going to cut Abbey Wood or Maidenhead you might as well shelve the whole lot. It only makes sense to dig the tunnel if you do the whole scheme. It’s like planning to buy a new car without an engine.”

A Crossrail spokesperson said the organisation “constantly makes efforts towards value management and value engineering to achieve maximum value for money”, but declined to comment on specific cutbacks.

It is not known what impact a decision to drop Tottenham Court Road station might have on the £250m upgrade of the tube station, currently being undertaken by Vinci and Bam Nuttall.

Meanwhile, it is understood that Network Rail is examining the implications of dropping plans for the £3bn remodelling of London Bridge station, the next phase of the £5.5bn Thameslink programme. This is in addition to £100m of cuts that Network Rail was asked to make this week.

A source said: “The question is, can we achieve better frequency on Thameslink without having to spend £3-3.5bn on the full London Bridge upgrade?”

A Network Rail spokesperson said: “The redevelopment of London Bridge is an essential part of the Thameslink programme. Network Rail remains fully committed to the scheme.”