The gap between the funding that’s available and how much it will cost for Crossrail to complete the Elizabeth line has widened.
It had been known earlier this year that there was a shortfall of around £150 million needed to complete the railway, and at a GLA Transport Committee meeting in March, TfL’s Commissioner, Andy Byford indicated that the shortfall had increased to £174 million.
A letter from Crossrail’s CEO, Mark Wild to the Chair of Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee, Dame Meg Hillier MP has now confirmed that the funding gap has indeed risen to £174 million. The letter (pdf file) was sent on 25th March, a few days after the GLA meeting, but only published by Parliament on 21st April.
When the project received its last financial support package to complete the railway, they requested £1.1 billion, with an expectation of probably needing £950 million, but the Department for Transport (DfT) only agreed to provide £825 million.
There’s now an expectation that completing the railway will cost £972 million to complete, taking the final cost for the project to £15,963 million.
As Crossrail has been handing sites over to TfL ahead of the Elizabeth line opening, they’ve been cutting costs by running down the most expensive contractors first and looking at other areas where costs can be cut or deferred to later.
However, some costs have been unavoidable, leading to a higher funding gap than had been previously expected.
Crossrail’s CEO, Mark Wild has previously said that the DfT is aware of the issue, and they are in talks to cover the gap. TfL commissioner Andy Byford has also committed to not needing any more funding to open the Elizabeth line, although that was based on the original £1.1 billion estimate, so the request for an additional £172 million to bring the total to £972 million would be within that commitment.
The project is however still on target to open “as soon as possible in the first half of 2022”, and with Elizabeth line signs appearing in tube stations across London in preparation, it’s just a few weeks left to the grand opening day.