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London Assembly wants to see Crossrail budget by April

The London Assembly have asked Crossrail to reveal its 2010/11 budget by April this year as part of its recommendations to improve the project’s openness about costs and progress.

The assembly’s Transport Committee made the suggestion in a new report, published today, which calls for Crossrail to report back with figures including forecasts and contingency plans in case of cost overruns.

It says: “The information set out in the report should make clear what budget the company holds for 2010/11 and on what specific parts of the project the funds will be spent. It should include the forecast completion cost and a transparent statement of all contingency sums.

“This will ensure transparency in the expenditure of public money and demonstrate whether costs are being controlled and the various stages of the work are being delivered on time and to budget.”

The committee also suggests that Crossrail should submit a progress report in December 2010 to compare with its cost estimates. This report should include more detailed expenditure plans for 2011.

In addition the committee’s report also highlights that eight of the project’s 37 stations are outside Greater London and as a result proposes that the Crossrail levy is extended beyond the city’s boundaries if extra funding is required.

Crossrail’s recent compulsory purchase negotiations in Central London’s Soho area are also criticised in by the committee, which urged the project to “lift its game” in future dealings with businesses and residents that it is buying out.

Transport Committee chair Caroline Pidgeon said: “London badly needs the extra capacity and economic benefits Crossrail will bring, so political momentum must be maintained over the coming years to ensure the project is delivered.

“Disruption and displacement are inevitable consequences of building a new rail link through central London, but Crossrail’s initial dealings with displaced businesses and residents have been very disappointing.  We hope they have learned lessons from these early experiences.”