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The Impact of the Crossrail Delay

TFL’s announcement regarding Crossrail’s nine-month delay has caused serious repercussions, bosses are now seeking extra funds to complete the works. The rail minister Jo Johnson promised the public in August the project was 93% complete and on schedule, Crossrail has finally admitted that construction will not be on time, with contractors said to have continuously missed infrastructure deadlines.

Since the announcement, workers have reported fitting in station parts and months later taking them out due to them being poorly designed. One of the main catalysts for Crossrail’s significant delays, was a major electrical explosion on the line at Pudding Mill Lane last year which took months to resolve and postponed testing altogether.

Upon announcing the 9-month delay to the newly named Elizabeth line, TFL have given a vague new target of ‘Autumn 2019’, showing that they too are unsure of when the project will be complete.

Costs and financial impact on TFL and retailers

TFL are thought to be taking the brunt of the cost, as the delayed opening, means up to £20 million is lost in revenue from extra passenger journeys upon opening, will have to be budgeted in – however any further delays could mean the losses will run into the hundreds of millions. In addition, the government has reduced their annual grant to TFL by 10% meaning an operating deficit of 1 billion. The project was £600 million over budget by July of this year, TFL may be reluctant to provide the surplus needed as further delays may arise.

Retailers are also affected by the delay, as the expected footfall has not come to fruition, costing them valuable business.

What does this mean for commuters?

Crossrail will be the biggest addition to London’s increasingly crowded tube line in 30 years boosting capacity by a much needed 10%. The delay will put an added strain on London’s busting transport system. Back in 2017, London’s Mayor urged the government to back plans for Crossrail 2 if they didn’t want to see London’s transport system ‘grind to a halt under the strain of overcrowding’.

Commuters and those who have bought houses in the outer areas of the route that were hoping for quick connections, will be frustrated as fares are set to increase in 2020. Londoners banking on the Crossrail property premium will also be thoroughly disappointed, particularly after the ‘Brexit hit’ which has seen property prices ‘down 3 per cent year-on-year in the third quarter of 2018’.

What does this mean for further infrastructure projects?

The delays to Crossrail have inevitably cast doubt among government ministers and the public over further major infrastructure projects in the capital and at a national level. Projects which have faced considerable resistance such as HS2 are now under added scrutiny. Opponents of HS2 who have maintained the project will exceed the £55 billion budget, will no doubt point at the Crossrail failings.

While not an obvious link, one of the capitals largest infrastructure projects entering its final stages – the new Spurs Stadium, has highlighted a crisis in manpower needed to complete the Crossrail project. Builders and skilled labourers have been recruited from as far as Newcastle and Middlesbrough to fill the deficit of workers in the capital adding substantially to costs and delays.

Christian Wolmer, a writer and broadcaster specialising in transport suspects the biggest issue remains in the signalling, as the complexity of integrating three different systems is ‘a major task’ – though ‘hardware should be pretty simple’ he adds, ‘the software is the real issue’ and debugging the software will no doubt add to the delays. Software experts from around the world will need to be employed to undergo this extensive task adding pressure on bosses to employ enough manpower to meet next autumn’s looming deadline.

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