2021-07-09 07:56:26 UTC
Sadiq Khan is being urged to “get a grip” of the ballooning cost to finish
Crossrail after a £218m funding hole opened up in the finances of London's
new tube line.
Crossrail, also known as the Elizabeth Line, will now cost taxpayers £19bn,
according to a report by the National Audit Office (NAO).
The public spending scrutineer said that Crossrail is now “low value for
money” for taxpayers as costs spiral and post-pandemic demand for public
Running under the streets of London between Paddington to Canary Wharf,
Crossrail was originally due to open in December 2018 and cost a total of
But a catalogue of failures, many of which Mr Khan has insisted he was not
aware of, has meant costs cannot be kept under control. It is hoped that
the Elizabeth Line will start running in the first six months of next year
and be fully operational by May 2023.
Current estimates are that finishing the work will cost between £30m to
£218m more than is currently in the budget.
In a 61-page report, the National Audit Office said: "Estimates [are] that
current funding will be exhausted between July and September 2022."
Gareth Davies, the head of the NAO, said: "Crossrail was further from
completion than anyone understood when the Department, TfL and Crossrail
Ltd reset the programme in 2019. The problems we identified in our previous
report have been difficult to address and have continued to affect the
"There are now encouraging signs that Crossrail is in a more stable
position. However, it will require further funding to complete, and there
are still significant risks that must be managed as the Elizabeth line
undergoes operational testing. "
Mr Khan, the chairman of Transport for London, the body that is now solely
responsible for Crossrail, has received more than £4bn in bailouts from
Westminster since the start of the pandemic. Crossrail was previously
overseen by TfL and the Department for Transport.
The current grant runs out on Dec 11. And with TfL likely to be dependent
on funding from the Department for Transport for the foreseeable future, Mr
Khan is expected to be forced to tap taxpayers for the additional £218m to
finish the project.
Keith Prince, Conservative assembly member and transport spokesman said:
"Londoners will be disappointed but not surprised that the bill for
Crossrail continues to soar well beyond its budget.
"The latest progress report worryingly suggests that the Elizabeth Line is
still plagued with problems and may not be ready to open in the first half
of 2022 as hoped. The Mayor desperately needs to get a grip of this project
and get it over the line early next year without blowing the bank.”
Delays to the finishing Crossrail have had a pincer-like effect on TfL’s
finances. The additional cost from overrunning works is coupled with the
transport authority missing out on fare income from passengers travelling
on the line.
Meanwhile, TfL is warning that the revenue it does generate from the
Elizabeth Line will be considerably lower than hoped with passenger demand
for rail services estimated to remain 18pc lower than pre-crisis levels
The transport benefits of building the line were originally estimated at
£1.97 for every pound. This fell to £1.37 for every pound in March 2020,
prior to the impact of Covid being felt.