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Crossrail could be delayed again with more than £1bn needed to finish project

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Photo courtesy of Transport for London

The opening date for Crossrail could be pushed back again after the project's new chief executive said he cannot commit to next year's target.

More than a billion pounds is also set to be pumped into Crossrail to cover the costs caused by the scheme’s delay.

Crossrail, which will eventually allow Maidenhead and Slough commuters to travel to central London underground stations without changing trains, was due to launch this month before the expected start for services was pushed back to autumn 2019.

But today, new Crossrail chief executive Mark Wild said that target may not be hit, and Transport for London (TfL) and the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan have agreed to borrow from the Department for Transport to cover costs caused by the delay – which could range from £1.3bn to £1.7bn – in order to finish the scheme.

The money will complement the £300m provided by the Department for Transport and TfL in July, the same month then-transport minister Jo Johnson revealed Crossrail would cost £15.4billion.

Funding is needed for stations and tunnels on the Elizabeth Line, which stretches from Reading to Shenfield in Essex, as well as for safety and reliability testing.

An independent review by KPMG will ‘ensure the right scrutiny and oversight are in place as the project enters its critical next phase, and that Crossrail Ltd’s financial and schedule projections are robust’, according to a TfL statement today.

Mr Wild said: “Since I joined Crossrail Ltd in November I have been reviewing the work still required to complete the core stations and rail infrastructure and begin the critical safety testing.

“It is evident that 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.

“This means that I cannot at this stage commit to an autumn 2019 opening date.

“My team and I are working to establish a robust and deliverable schedule in order to give Londoners a credible plan to open the railway and provide a safe and reliable service.

“Once that work is completed we will then be in a position to confirm a new opening date.”

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