What is happening with the Crossrail delay?
Crossrail has been the infrastructure name on everyone’s lips since the project was first launched almost a decade ago. However, the wait for the big finish has been somewhat later than expected with delays to the completion date of December 2018. Given how high profile Crossrail is, what implications is this likely to have and when can we expect to see the project finished?
The extent of the Crossrail delay
Sections of the new Elizabeth Line – which is the brand new London Underground line that Crossrail has been building – are actually already up and running. The completion date of December 2018 applied to the Abbey Wood to Paddington core section of the line that covers stations such as Farringdon and Liverpool Street.
However, it has now been estimated that the core section of the line will actually not open until Autumn 2019, almost a full year late. Given that this part of the Elizabeth Line is so important to the entire stretch of track, there are likely to be significant delays to other parts of the project too. As a result, eventual completion could ultimately end up even more delayed than is now anticipated.
Why is the project experiencing such a delay?
The official reason given for such slow progress is “to ensure a safe and reliable railway.” Crossrail Limited has said that this enormous project has proven to be very complex. The extended time period has been required for more testing and to develop the software that will control the railway systems. The company also said that there was more work to do in the tunnels themselves. Given that the project is so high profile, it’s not surprising that special efforts are being made to ensure that – when it does launch – potential problems are minimised. Even if that does mean that the completion date for Crossrail gets moved back by quite some time.
What wider impact could the Crossrail delay have?
The Northern Line Battersea extension
In infrastructure terms, the next big project for London after Crossrail is an extension of the Northern Line to Battersea. It was due to open in 2020 and tunnels have already been completed. However, station fit outs and the work on the tracks has not been done. If this work requires the contractors currently stuck on Crossrail then this project could also end up being set back.
National Rail services
A new timetable of National Rail services was due to launch on the same day as Crossrail. Due to shared track, stations and platforms between Greater Anglia services and the parts of the route that should be the Elizabeth Line (currently TFL Rail), a quick rethink may be required if commuters aren’t going to be seriously inconvenienced.
The new TFL maps may not be accurate!
Ok so this isn’t a disaster but TFL may now have to decide whether to keep the last, slightly out of date version from May 2018 and print new ones for the launch next year, or rush a fresh version to the press this December.
Other construction projects
There are fears that the talent drain being created by Crossrail overrunning may be preventing other projects from employing the workers required to complete them. The new Tottenham Hotspur stadium, which has also been delayed, is a prime example.
The Crossrail delays are frustrating for all concerned. Given what is riding on the outcome of the project it’s essential that these don’t extend beyond next year’s new deadline.
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