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Public Accounts Committee report criticises delivery of Crossrail
Image courtesy of Crossrail Ltd

Public Accounts Committee report criticises delivery of Crossrail

The Public Accounts Committee has has released a report which concludes that the costs of the Crossrail project are likely to rise even further.

In its Completing Crossrail report, the Public Accounts Committee is scathing about the way taxpayers’ money has been used on the project, with particular criticism reserved for the Department for Transport (DfT) and its ‘unacceptable’ decision to devolve so much accountability for taxpayers’ money on the programme.

Already, the project to bring the Elizabeth line is £2.8 billion over budget; the railway was meant to open in December 2018, but this was delayed and subsequently, extra finance was required to offset the loss of expected train ticket purchases from December 2018 onwards that were budgeted for.

Crossrail Ltd outlined a new plan to finish remaining work, with a provisional opening of 2021.

However, the Public Accounts Committee report says the final cost still remains unknown – because an official opening date for the full railway has not been determined, the report says “costs for the programme are likely to continue to climb.”

The Committee lays the blame at the feet of the DfT, but also criticised Crossrail’s management of main contractors and failure to integrate different strands of the programme successfully.

A series of conclusions and recommendations have been outlined; these include asking the DfT and Crossrail Ltd to inform the Committee as and when they expect the full railway to open; to file progress reports on the programme, performance of contractors, use of monitoring progress against the plan, and how they are countering risk of optimism bias.

A spokesperson for the Committee said: “Crossrail is two years late and £2.8 billion over budget. Unfortunately, delay and being over-budget now appear to be par for the course for major rail projects.

“Crossrail Ltd has failed to understand the complexity and risks of Crossrail, to manage its main contractors, and to integrate different strands of the programme successfully.

“The DfT is ultimately responsible for the use of taxpayers’ money on Crossrail; it still does not appear to have got a grip of the problems.”

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