Department for Transport voiced concerns last spring


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The Department for Transport first began to have worries Crossrail would miss its December 2018 opening date in spring last year, a group of MPs on a spending watchdog has said.

In its report, Rail management and timetabling, the Public Accounts Committee said the department, which is a co-sponsor on the project, had failed to properly manage the Crossrail programme in the lead-up to the announcement of its delay last August.

The report said: "We remain unconvinced that the [transport] department had a sufficient and timely grip on the programme."

It said the department was first told the scheme was in danger of missing its December 2018 opening date months before the delay was confirmed at the end of last summer.

The report said: "The department told us that although Crossrail Ltd formally notified the secretary of state [Chris Grayling] and Mayor of London [Sadiq Khan] on 30 August 2018 that the programme would be delayed, it began to have concerns in 'spring' 2018.

"It told us that Crossrail Ltd was answering the department’s questions on delivery of the programme and Crossrail Ltd maintained that the schedule was still possible, although its level of confidence started to diminish over time."

It added the department had questioned Crossrail’s then chief executive Simon Wright last June about the state of progress and concluded "it was not confident in the assurances given".

The report also revealed that Caroline Pidgeon, chair of the transport committee of the London Assembly, had said it first began to get worried about the Decemeber 2018 deadline more than a year earlier in November 2017.

The report said: "It [the London Assembly transport committee] concluded that the programme entered serious difficulties when an electrical explosion happened at Pudding Mill Lane in late 2017 but commercial issues were used to prevent scrutiny of the issues at the time.

"In written correspondence to us, it told us that transparency in key decision-making forums, and independent scrutiny of the programme, had been lacking from the outset of the programme."

The Public Accounts Committee, which is chaired by Labour MP Meg Hillier, is set to grill new Crossrail chief executive Mark Wild, its chairman Tony Meggs and Bernadette Kelly, who is a permanent secretary at the Department for Transport, on the progress of £17.6bn railway next week.


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