When is Crossrail going to open? Building reveals what we know about the rail project’s delay
With the original opening date of Crossrail more than come and gone and the project now having a proposed opening date of the first half of 2022 there are still plenty of questions around how the scheme fell so far behind.
As Transport for London (TfL), the Department for Transport (DfT) and Crossrail Ltd race to complete the project, there are plenty of questions around how much it is all going to cost and why the line is not finished yet.
Take a look at what we know so far.
When was the line due to open?
Last year an update by Westminster council let slip online that the central section of Crossrail was scheduled to open on 9 December, 2018, as part of its follow-up to the decision to reject the pedestrianisation of Oxford Street.
What is to blame for Crossrail’s delay?
When announcing the delay Crossrail said the schedule has been revised “to complete the final infrastructure and extensive testing required”.
Subsequently, the first chief executive of Crossrail Rob Holden blamed a decision to delay procurement of rolling stock for the scheme’s failure to hit its December 2018 opening date. A TfL spokesperson denied this saying: “The procurement of the trains has had no impact on the delayed opening of the central section.”
Mark Wild has blamed the tunnelling for delays at Bond Street and has said the original plan to get the scheme open was “fantasy”.
The delay to the summer 2021 opening date has been at least partially blamed on the covid-19 pandemic.
Were there warning signs?
Nearly two months before the delay to Crossrail was confirmed, the Infrastructure Projects Authority flagged potential issues with the scheme.
In its 2018 Annual Report, the Infrastructure Projects Authority gave Crossrail an amber delivery confidence assessment meaning it was looking at a cost or schedule overrun if “significant issues” were not addressed. It was the first time the project has received a rating below a green category in the six years the report has been produced.
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How much is Crossrail going to cost?
At the moment the official known cost has topped the £18bn-mark. An announcement in August 2020 revealing the project would cost £450m more than the extra cash requested late last year.
In November 2019 Mark Wild confirmed the line would need somewhere between £400m and £650m to be completed.
On 10 December 2018 it was revealed that Crossrail was set to cost up to an additional £2bn with the Greater London Authority set to grant TfL a £1.4bn loan to finish off the scheme.
When is Crossrail now due to open?
Crossrail has now confirmed it will miss its proposed central section opening date of summer 2021, blaming the covid-19 pandemic for the latest delays. It is now expected to open in the first half of 2022.
In April 2019 Crosrail boss Mark Wild saidd the scheme would open some time between October 2020 and March 2021. This did not include Bond Street station. Wild has now said it is "increasingly likely" that Bond Street will open in line with the rest of the central section.
After the delay was first announched it was meant to open before the end of autumn 2019, but then the London Assembly put a cat among the pigeons suggesting Crossrail may not open until December 2019 – a full 12 months later than it was originally due to open.
A report from the assembly’s budget and performance committee said that if TfL, which is helping fund the scheme and will be responsible for running the line, “wants to co-ordinate with the National Rail timetable, it is likely that this means December 2019”.
Key dates in Crossrail’s delay
12 May 2021: Crossrail confirms trial running has begun
1 December 2020: Crossrail gets £825m bailout. The organisation had been looking for £1bn.
4 September 2020: Crossrail once again concedes it may need to open without Bond Street
21 August 2020: Crossrail confirms the cost of finishing the project will top £19bn and the line will not be ready until the first half of 2022.
23 July 2020: The opening of Crossrail is pushed back a third time with the railway this evening admitting defeat on plans to get the key central section of the line up and running next summer
25 June 2020: Crossrail and the Costain Skanska joint venture building the project’s problem Bond Street project part ways – despite the station being the only Crossrail terminus not ready for the next stage of testing
24 March 2020: All TfL and Crossrail construction sites are shutdown because of coronavirus
19 March 2020: Crossrail's Bond Street station site is closed because of covid-19
6 January 2020: TfL commissioner Mike Brown says his organisation is planning for Crossrail to complete in the final quarter of 2021
8 November 2019: Crossrail chief executive Mark Wild says the line won't open in 2020 and will need between £400m and £650m to be finished
23 September 2019: Chair Tony Meggs admits Crossrail could be another six months late and need a further £400m to finish it off
30 August 2019: Crossrail’s frustration with the two firms behind Bond Street station breaks into the open with the railway’s board calling for “expected and necessary” leadership changes at the Costain/Skanska joint venture
3 May 2019: A National Audit Office report reveals that the expected cost of finishing seven Crossrail stations has increased by more than £2bn. It also says Crossrail needs to motivate contractors with financial bonuses in order to get the £17.6bn job done in a “timely and efficient manner”.
25 April 2019: Chief executive Mark Wild says the company had earmarked a six month delivery window for the £17.8bn scheme “with a midpoint at the end of 2020” meaning Crossrail will open some time between October that year and March 2021. Bond Street station will not open in that window.
3 April 2019: In a report the Public Accounts Committee says it is “unconvinced” Crossrail’s £2.8bn bailout will be enough, and slams executives for their “unacceptable” inability to explain the delays.
25 January 2019: KPMG’s review of Crossrail’s financial arrangements and governance is published. It reveals that there is only an 80% chance that Crossrail will be built within its newly approved budget and that the scheme is costing £30m a week.
10 December 2018: It was revealed that Crossrail would cost up to another £2bn to finish and that no one knew when it would open. Infrastructure and Projects Authority boss Tony Meggs is named chair while former Labour MP Nick Raynsford takes up the vice chair role.
23 November 2018: National Audit Office confirms it will launch a probe into Crossrail’s delay
2 November 2018: TfL and Crossrail announce that Mark Wild will join Crossrail as chief executive, with the company’s current boss Simon Wright stepping down. TfL said Wright’s departure was “as planned”. He was in the job for eight months.
26 October 2018: The government announces it has pumped £350m into Crossrail to keep the project on track.
31 August 2018: It is officially announced that Crossrail’s opening had been delayed by at least nine months to autumn 2019. The company behind the project said the schedule has been revised “to complete the final infrastructure and extensive testing required”.
24 July 2018: An annual update on Crossrail from then transport minister Jo Johnson said the Department for Transport (DfT) and Transport for London (TfL) had agreed to the new £15.4bn funding figure. Last year the figure was expected to be £14.8bn.
6 July 2018: In its 2018 Annual Report, the Infrastructure Projects Authority gave Crossrail an amber delivery confidence assessment meaning it was looking at a cost or schedule overrun if “significant issues” were not addressed. It was the first time the project has received a rating below a green category.