Mike Brown says project set to be delayed until December 2021

Transport for London has said Crossrail may not open until December 2021 – three years after it was first due to open.

The £18bn project, which was originally due to be up and running in December 2018, is now unlikely to open until the last quarter of next year, according to TfL commissioner Mike Brown.

And he also revealed the new Crossrail bosses had been caught off-guard by the amount of incomplete work on the stations along the route’s central section.

mike brown

When delays were first announced in August 2018, the line was given a revised opening date of autumn 2019.

This was subsequently abandoned by chief executive Mark Wild and chair Tony Meggs when they were parachuted into the project at the end of 2018.

Wild then said the project was expected to open between October 2020 and March 2021 before revealing last November the line would not open at all this year.

Now, Brown (pictured) has revealed TfL is working under the assumption that the opening date will be between September and December 2021.

Brown, who was appearing before the London Assembly’s budget and performance committee this morning, said while TfL was waiting for Crossrail’s leadership to officially confirm the new opening date it had taken “a very pragmatic look” when planning forecasts.

He said: “What we’ve looked at is a delay [in opening] to the later stages of 2021 in terms of our business planning assumption.”

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Brown, who is due to leave the transport authority for a new job heading up the £4bn restoration of parliament in May, also said Crossrail’s new leadership had underestimated the amount of work still to do on the project.

He said it had been expected that the major problem facing the project was the commissioning of the railway system, including the signalling.

But Brown added: “What wasn’t envisaged was the scale of unfinished and uncompleted work on the stations and the station systems.

“Tiles had to be taken away, platforms had to be re-opened up because of some of the wiring of the system, some of the processes and equipment that should have been applied and installed weren’t there.”

Late last year, Wild admitted trial running trains through the critical central section of the railway had been delayed even further.

The line can only open when trains can be run safely through the central London tunnels section, a testing process which is expected to take between nine and 12 months.

This had been due to begin next month but was pushed out to the summer, with Wild raising the possibility it might not start until October at a London Assembly meeting last month.

A spokesperson for TfL said: “As part of our annual business planning process, we have made some prudent assumptions including that the central section of the railway could open in autumn 2021, but continue to support Crossrail Ltd in delivering the railway as soon as possible.

“Crossrail Ltd continue to refine their delivery schedule and will provide an update in the coming weeks.”

She also said that trains coming from Shenfield could begin running through the central tunnels in May 2022, while services all the way through to Heathrow and Reading could start in December of that year.