Scope of the inquiry
Crossrail – the major project intended to provide rail services across London from east to west – began construction back in 2009. The project is jointly sponsored by Transport for London and the Department for Transport, both of which are providing the majority of the funding.
The central section of the line was initially due to open in December 2018. However, in August of that year, it was announced that the target date would not be met and that Crossrail would not be delivered on time. It has since been announced that the central section of the line will not open until between late 2020 and early 2021. In addition to the delays, the project has also seen cost increases with the level of funding at £17.6 billion, which is £2.8 billion more than was announced in 2010.
The Committee last looked at the Crossrail project earlier this year. Its report, published in April 2019, found that the fixation on the intended delivery date of December 2018 had led to many of the project’s warning signs being either missed or ignored. The Committee also concluded that there had not been proper oversight of the project by either the Department or TfL which has meant that the root causes of delays and cost increases have not yet been identified. The Committee is now holding a further inquiry on the topic, based off of the National Audit Office’s Value for Money report which concluded that Crossrail is now ‘past the point of no return’ and that the timeline, and final costs of the programme, are still unknown. The NAO concluded that the way that Crossrail had been delivered has driven unnecessary costs.
On Wednesday 15 May, the Committee will be taking evidence from a range of witnesses, including officials from the Department for Transport, the current CEO and Chairman of Crossrail, as well as the former Chairman and CEO. The Committee will use this session as an opportunity to determine how the programme ran into such difficulty and why problems were not identified when they should have been. The Committee will seek assurances that the revised schedule is achievable and will be met. The Committee may also seek a commitment that better governance arrangements are now in place and that both TfL and DfT will apply lessons learned from the programme so far.