LONDON (Reuters) – London’s Crossrail project will receive as much as 1.7 billion pounds in additional public funding to complete the delayed line that will link the Canary Wharf financial district to Heathrow airport.
However, the opening of the new line could be delayed further beyond the tentative date of autumn 2019. Problems with the 15-billion-pound flagship project emerged in August when its opening was put back by about nine months from this December.
Transport For London (TfL) said accountants KPMG had indicated the likely cost of the delay could be between 1.6 billion and 2 billion pounds, including 300 million pounds already contributed by the Department for Transport (DfT) and TfL in July.
The Mayor of London and the government had agreed a financial package to cover the shortfall, TfL said.
When open the Elizabeth Line, as the link has been named, will connect destinations such as Heathrow west of the city with Canary Wharf in the east, carrying about 500,000 passengers a day.
Chief Executive Mark Wild, who joined the project in November, said stations were in varying stages of completion and signalling needed to be tested.
“It is evident that there is a huge amount still to do,” he said. “This means that I cannot at this stage commit to an autumn 2019 opening date,” he added.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said he hadn’t hidden his anger and frustration about the delay.
“With London’s population continuing to grow, our priority must be getting this monumental project completed as soon as possible, with Londoners enjoying all the benefits the Elizabeth Line will provide,” he said.
“This agreement means that, working with TfL and the government, Crossrail’s new leadership can get the job done.”
Project chairman Terry Morgan resigned on Wednesday after Khan said he was concerned about the effectiveness of Crossrail’s governance.
Morgan also stepped down from the High Speed 2 rail project that will connect London to Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds.
His nominated replacement is Tony Meggs, who will move from his role as CEO of the Infrastructure and Projects Authority to oversee the final stages of delivering the Elizabeth Line, TfL said.
(Reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by Kate Holton/Keith Weir)