Cost estimates for the £2bn overground sections of Crossrail have risen by 30% as the project’s senior management remains under pressure to cut costs on the £15.9bn scheme, writes Joey Gardiner.

Building understands recent work has shown that the cost of integrating the line with the Great Western signalling system in particular is likely to be higher than anticipated.

Engineers had also originally hoped to reduce spending by closing parts of the line for access for a longer period, rather than many overnight closures. However, further investigations have revealed that this is either technically unfeasible or likely to trigger expensive penalty clauses.

A source close to the project said the problems had led to an increased focus on bringing down costs on the overground spurs of the east-west London rail link.

The cost was £2bn, but it’s now about £2.5-3bn. the team is now looking at a de minimis option

Source close to Crossrail

They said: “The cost was £2bn, it’s now risen by around 30% and is looking to be £2.5-3bn. The team is now looking at what happens if you go for a complete de minimis option for the overground section.”

In particular, the source said the option of shortening trains, thereby allowing existing overground stations to operate without extending platforms and building new ticket halls, would potentially bring big savings.

Ministers have repeatedly stressed the new government’s commitment to the programme since Building reported two weeks ago that the government had not ruled out removing some stations or whole spurs in order to reduce costs. However, the possibility of such cuts has not specifically been denied.

In a further sign Crossrail is pushing ahead with construction, this week it tendered for contractors for tunnel repairs at the Pudding Mill Lane portal and the £35m ticket hall at Broadgate.

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “We need to ensure that every pound invested in the project is well spent.”