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New york London's Crossrail shunted by further delay as cost threatens to rise by £1.1bn

·3 min read

<p>Even before the onset of the <strong><a href="https://news.sky.com/topic/coronavirus-8483" target="_blank">coronavirus</a> </strong>pandemic, the <strong><a href="https://news.sky.com/story/crossrail-budget-tops-18bn-as-deadline-slips-again-11857277" target="_blank">budget-busting</a></strong> east-west line through the capital, stretching from Berkshire to Essex, had repeatedly missed deadlines since failing to meet the original target of December 2018.</p><p>In March, Transport for London (TfL) said it was suspending building work at sites, including <a href="https://news.sky.com/topic/crossrail-6523" target="_blank"><strong>Crossrail</strong></a>, to limit the spread of <strong><a href="https://news.sky.com/topic/covid-19-8518" target="_blank">COVID-19</a></strong>.</p><p>While construction has restarted, social distancing means a maximum of 2,000 people are now allowed on Crossrail sites, which is less than 50% of the staffing levels prior to the public health crisis.</p><p>In a statement, Crossrail Limited, the company responsible for the project, said: "Delivery of the Elizabeth line is now in its complex final stages and is being completed at a time of great uncertainty due to the risks and potential impacts of further COVID outbreaks.</p><p>"The board's latest assessment, based on the best available programme information right now, is that the central section between Paddington and Abbey Wood will be ready to open in the first half of 2022."</p><p>The new date comes after the team behind the project said last month that the route would not meet its then-summer 2021 target opening.</p><p>It has also been confirmed that the £18.25bn project may need up to an extra £1.1bn to be completed.</p><p>The original budget was set at £15.9bn in 2007.</p> <p>The project's boss said their "focus remains on opening the Elizabeth Line as soon as possible" and that they have a "comprehensive plan" to open the railway.</p><p>Chief executive Mark Wild said: "We are working tirelessly to complete the remaining infrastructure works so that we can fully test the railway and successfully transition the project as an operational railway to Transport for London."</p><p>Sadiq Khan's office said the London mayor is "deeply disappointed" by the updated schedule.</p><p>A spokesman said: "He has asked Transport for London's new commissioner, Andy Byford, to review Crossrail's latest plans, including their estimated additional costs, and to work with the Department for Transport to ensure everything possible is being done to get the central section safely open as quickly as possible."</p><p>Mr Byford also said the delay is "disappointing".</p><p>He added: "I have been very clear that I am committed to getting this railway open safely and reliably as quickly as possible for the benefit of London and beyond."</p><p>TfL has lost hundreds of millions of pounds in passenger income due to the delays.</p> <p>Rebranded as the Elizabeth Line in 2016, Crossrail is expected - when it eventually opens - to carry about 200 million passengers a year and alleviate pressure on London's underground network, parts of which date back to the 19th century.</p><p>The announcement of the latest delay came on the day the government launched a new "acceleration unit" designed to speed up road and rail infrastructure upgrades.</p><p>Transport Secretary Grant Shapps revealed a team of specialists will join the DfT to tackle delays to projects caused by the pandemic.</p>

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