Government steps in to bridge Crossrail funding gap
The Government is to supply the Mayor of London with £350 million of short-term funding for the Elizabeth Line (Crossrail), following the recent announcement that its opening will be delayed ( RAIL 861).
Rail Minister Jo Johnson confirmed the funding arrangements on October 26 to “ensure that full momentum is maintained behind Crossrail”.
However, Transport for London (TfL) has been criticised for holding a closed board meeting to discuss the project. On October 23, TfL held a board meeting with Crossrail as the only item on the agenda, with talks held confidentially.
London Assembly Transport Committee Chairman Caroline Pidgeon criticised the move, saying: “Yet again TfL is not providing Londoners with the transparency they expect and deserve.
“Time and again, the Transport Committee has criticised the Mayor, TfL and Crossrail for a lack of transparency and clarity. The Mayor and TfL are either wilfully ignoring our suggestions or are simply not learning lessons. There has to be transparency - especially when it comes to matters pertaining to Crossrail - for the sake of Londoners and to build trust.
“This meeting should be held in public, and only when a sensitive issue is raised and discussed should the meeting go into private session. It is important for Londoners to know what is going on behind closed doors and feel respected enough to be told about something that ultimately they are paying for.”
On funding arrangements, Johnson said that discussions between TfL and the Department for Transport are under way on deciding how any additional funding will be provided.
He said that London, as the primary beneficiary of Crossrail, would have to bear any additional costs via a financing arrangement. The two parties have commissioned an independent review on Crossrail’s governance and a separate review on its finance and commercial position.
While Pidgeon welcomed the announcement, she described it as “a sticking plaster to keep the project going” and added that it was important to know how much the arrangement would cost.
In a further development on Crossrail, Financial Conduct Authority Chief Executive Andrew Bailey has written to Pidgeon after concerns were raised that TfL made a statement to the London Stock Exchange on July 24 which mentioned no delay to the project, even though it is claimed Crossrail informed TfL that it could not be sure of the opening date five days earlier.
In his letter, Bailey wrote: “We are aware of and are reviewing the issues referred to in your letter, with a view to determining whether it is appropriate for us to exercise any of our statutory powers. As part of this review we may use the information gathering powers available to us to seek further information from the subjects of the inquiry.”
Following the completion of its review, the authority will decide whether to launch a formal investigation via its Enforcement Division.