Gov­ern­ment steps in to bridge Cross­rail fund­ing gap

Rail (UK) - - Network -

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.