Crossrail is asking the government for up to more than one billion pounds to complete work on a project that is already four years behind schedule.
The move comes amid uncertainty about whether the 26-mile Berkshire-to-Essex project will get the funding it needs to even hit the latest deadline of mid 2022.
Originally budgeted at £15.9 billion when work started in 2008, the Elizabeth Line’s current price tag now stands at £18.7 billion.
Since the start of the pandemic, when Transport for London’s rail and bus revenue all but vanished, the Government has taken over funding the organisation so that it could keep services running.
On March 17, TfL commissioner Andy Byford revealed he is trying to convince the Department for Transport to give between £950 million and £1.1 billion to finally finish Crossrail. But £825 million has been offered so far, and the two sides have until the end of March to agree a deal.
Despite this, Crossrail Ltd has set out the final stages that it hopes to complete over the next 18 months.
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The next milestone will be “trial running”. This is where a limited number of trains drive through tunnels, dug six years ago, in what’s known as the “central section” between Paddington and Abbey Wood.
Trial running is due to commence before summer this year, but this will require completion of key infrastructure along the central section, as well as:
- Complete “dynamic testing” of the signalling and train systems
- Complete “integration testing” across the routeway
- Handover of the completed routeway to TfL
- A completed “safety and assurance process” and regulatory approval from the ORR (Office of Rail and Road) to commence trial running
Among the major projects that have been completed are:
- Farringdon and Custom House stations
- Portals – where the train line emerges above ground – in Royal Oak, Victoria Dock, Pudding Mill Lane, North Woolwich and Plumstead
- Shafts in Fisher Street, Mile End, Limmo, Eleanor Street and Stepney Green
Tottenham Court Road station is due to be completed in late May, with Paddington station a few weeks behind it, Crossrail said.
In January, Crossrail chief executive Mark Wild revealed that these station completions will be followed by: Woolwich, Abbey Wood, Liverpool Street, Canary Wharf, White Chapel, with Bond Street likely to be the final station handed to TfL.
Mr Wild has previously admitted that Bond Street may have to open after other stations along the central section, and last year there were reportedly staff shortages for the site.
Full services across the Elizabeth line, from Reading and Heathrow in the west to Abbey Wood and Shenfield in the east, will come after the central section is fully operational.
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