Crossrail has today confirmed that it will miss the “summer 2021” opening date that had been expected, due to delays caused by the Covid lockdown.
Costs are also rising.
Although Crossrail is still working on the specifics of the impact caused by the construction pause during the lockdown, during a board meeting today, TfL was notified that the opening of the central section will not occur during summer 2021.
That already delayed opening time had been announced in January, just before the lockdown hit. Although some work continued during the lockdown, an impact of some sort was expected. Physical activity on Crossrail sites recommenced on 15 June and Dynamic Testing in the tunnels resumed on 30 May. A blockade of 5-weeks of 24/7 working is due to start in August to help catch up some of the delays.
Much of the remaining work involves hooking up, integrating and testing the completed infrastructure and railway systems along with the finalisation of the extensive safety case to the Office of Rail and Road who will give the go-ahead to commence Trial Running.
At the moment, Crossrail is unable to say when they expect the central tunnels will open as they are still working on revised plans to resume works in current socially distanced working environments.
Crossrail confirmed that a more comprehensive update is expected in due course.
In December 2018, Crossrail secured an additional £2.15 billion to complete works, and had been warning recently that it would need between £400m and £650m above this.
They are now warning that the overspend could be higher.
In conjunction with the refinement of the remaining work schedule, the extent of any cost increases is being worked out, alongside potential mitigations, before being validated and confirmed in due course.
Earlier in the week it was announced that Crossrail needed an additional £140 million – to complete Network Rail works on either side of the tunnel core.
Crossrail also confirmed that TfL and DfT are in discussion regarding how the funding of these additional costs will be resolved, while the Financing Package remains in place.
In a statement, Mark Wild, Chief Executive, Crossrail, said: “Everyone working on the Crossrail project knows London needs the Elizabeth line more than ever and we are doing everything possible to deliver the railway as safely and as quickly as we can. We have a comprehensive plan to complete the railway but existing schedule pressure along with COVID-19 has impacted the programme and time has been lost. Further work is being undertaken to finalise our detailed recovery plan which re-sequences the remaining work.”