More money rescues completion of Crossrail 13 Dec 2018

Transport for London News Release

After announcing in August a year’s delay of the December 2018 opening of the Crossrail project in London, officials confirm an extra £2 billion funding facility to complete the project and report that the revised Autumn 2019 opening date of the railway “can no longer be committed to”.

Crossrail station platform finishings under construction
Crossrail station platform finishings under construction

The Elizabeth Line, as the Crossrail project is now known, was anticipated to cost an estimated £15.9 billion in 2007. This increased to £17.8 billion in 2009, before central Government took steps to bring down the costs following a June 2010 Comprehensive Spending Review. The revised costs were budgeted at £14.8 billion, comprising £12.5 billion for the central underground section, being delivered by Crossrail Ltd, and £2.3 billion for delivery by Network Rail of the surface sections either side from Paddington to Maidenhead on the west and from Pudding Mill Lane and Plumstead to Shenfield and Abbey Wood to the northeast and southeast respectively (Fig 1).

Final breakthrough to complete 21km of twin tube TBM running tunnel excavation was achieved in June 2015, after the first of the eight TBMs used launched in May 2012. Excavation of the underground stations progressed at the same time towards substantial completion at the end of 2015 ahead of the station fitout and system installation phases.

Completed trackway in the underground central section
Completed trackway in the underground central section

Further funding comes to the project in the form of a loan of £1.3 billion from the Department for Transport of the UK central Government and a cash contribution of £100 million from the Greater London Authority is secured to help complete the project and should this be inadequate, a further contingency loan of up to £750 million is in place from the Department for Transport (DfT). This combined financing deal replaces a £350 million interim financing package offered by the Government in October.

The central £12.5 billion underground section of the project is funded jointly by DfT at £5.4 billion and jointly by Transport for London (TfL) and the Greater London Authority (GLA) at £7.1 billion. The £2.3 billion for the surface rail works is financed by Network Rail, and an additional £1.1 billion for new trains and the system depot, is funded by TfL.

Central underground route of Crossrail under London
Central underground route of Crossrail under London

Crossrail Ltd exceeded its portion of the £14.8 billion funding envelope earlier this year. In July 2018, DfT confirmed £590 million of additional funding was being made available for the project, with £300m to Crossrail Ltd and £290m for Network Rail works. The £300m for Crossrail Ltd was jointly funded between the Government and TfL, with each contributing £150m.

An independent review, initiated by the Mayor of London, is being undertaken by KPMG into Crossrail financing and governance arrangements to ensure the next stage runs smoothly. Early reports indicate a capital cost impact of the delay to the project in the region as between £1.6 billion and £2 billion.

The new Chief Executive of Crossrail since November 2018, Mark Wild, also confirmed that having reviewed the work still required to complete the project, an Autumn 2019 opening date could no longer be committed to at this stage, and his team was working on a robust and deliverable schedule.

Escalators being installed at Bond Street Station
Escalators being installed at Bond Street Station

“I have not hidden my anger and frustration about the Crossrail project being delayed,” said Mayor of London Sadiq Khan. “The delays of the project and its significant additional cost makes it clear that the previous Crossrail leadership painted a far too optimistic picture of the project’s status. Our priority must be getting this project completed as soon as possible. Working with TfL and the Government under this new agreement and the new Crossrail leadership will get the job done.”

In other senior executive changes, Tony Meggs is nominated as the new Chair of Crossrail Ltd to replace Sir Terry Morgan who resigned on 5 December. Meggs comes to Crossrail from his previous role as CEO of the Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA), and will oversee the final stages of delivering the Crossrail project. Former Member of Parliament Nick Raynsford who served as Minister for London on two occasions between 1997 and 2003, will become Deputy Chair of the Crossrail Ltd Board.

“Since joining Crossrail Ltd in November, I have been reviewing the work still required to complete core stations and rail infrastructure to begin critical safety testing,” said new Chief Executive Wild, “and there is a huge amount still to do. Stations are in varying stages of completion and we need time to test the complex railway systems. I cannot at this stage commit to an Autumn 2019 opening date, and my team and I are working to establish a robust and deliverable schedule in order to confirm a new opening date.”

All Elizabeth Line stations have the same architectural finish
All Elizabeth Line stations have the same architectural finish

Repayment of these new loans will come from funding streams that currently support of the Crossrail 2 project. Mayor Khan has said he remains fully committed to the Crossrail 2 project, and once the Government and Transport for London agree a route option for Crossrail 2, and there is a known cost for the scheme, further discussions will be needed around the delivery options in advance of the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review in 2019.

The Mayor and TfL remain committed to modernising London’s transport system and details of how any lost revenue will be mitigated will be provided as part of the TfL annual business planning process.

London Mayor Khan has written to the National Audit Office confirming his full support of a planned investigation into the Crossrail project and will make available the independent KPMG reports that his office initiated into Crossrail Ltd finances and governance.

References

Feedback

Dear TunnelTalk,

In response to the TunnelTalk Editor’s Desk question about why underground projects tend to slip during the finishing phases, I would submit that tunnel boring machines and ground conditions have rightfully earned their place in most risk assessments today, but as an industry we do not always give enough weight to the ‘hard things’ that project teams must still overcome after excavation is out of the way.

These include complex design and construction coordination between civil work and systems installations, handovers from one contract to another, commissioning, and readiness to operate the completed facility.

Sometimes working backwards can help shine a light on these challenges. For example, start with the desired opening date for the new facility, then work backwards from there, noting all the detailed steps in reverse, including the owner’s acceptance process, testing of each system, construction staging area handovers, etc.  

When you complete this exercise, using realistic durations, you may find that work should have started six months ago and you are already late!

Seven-time World Champion chess player Jose Raul Capablanca said it best:

In order to improve your game, you must study the end game before everything else. For, whereas the endings can be studied and mastered by themselves, the middle game and opening must be studied in relation to the end game.

Regards,
James Wonneberg, PE, CCM
Resident Engineer at McMillen Jacobs Associates
Co-Founder of GraphicSchedule

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