MPs’ fury as cost of delayed Crossrail soars by £3billion
‘Major failings in the programme’
MPs have hit out at the ‘unacceptably laissez-faire’ attitude of ministers and rail bosses to the spiralling costs of London’s delayed Crossrail project.
The new Elizabeth Line across the capital was originally due to open four months ago – but there are now doubts whether it will even be ready next year.
Emergency loans from the Government have seen the cost of the underground scheme soar by £2.8billion to £17.6billion.
In a scathing Commons report, the public accounts committee said passengers have still not been told the root causes for the route being delayed and over budget.
Although Crossrail was also overseen by Transport for London, MPs said the Department for Transport – headed by Chris Grayling – is ‘ultimately responsible for ensuring that the programme delivers value for money’.
But it said ‘despite acknowledging that there were major failings in the programme’ the Department and Crossrail Ltd have been ‘unwilling to accept their responsibilities for the significant delays and cost overruns’. It added: ‘We are disappointed at [their] unacceptably laissez-faire attitude to costs potentially rising by nearly £3billion.’
Once fully operational, the line will run from Reading and Heathrow in the west, to Shenfield in the east, through 13 miles of new tunnels.
However MPs warned they were not convinced trains will begin running next year or that the ‘additional £2.8billion of funding provided will be enough’. Crossrail’s cost is being met by the Government, the Greater London Authority, including TfL, and London businesses.
Labour MP Meg Hillier, who chairs the PAC, said passengers have been ‘badly let down’ and it is clear the planned opening date was ‘unrealistic for some time’.
In a damning indictment of the DfT’s wider track record, the committee added that it was ‘increasingly alarmed at the continual shortcomings’ in its oversight of Britain’s railways.
A DfT spokesman hit back, describing the report’s findings as ‘deeply disappointing’.
He said that it had ‘consistently challenged the leadership of Crossrail Ltd on the delivery of this project.’