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Crossrail cost 'could rise by £4bn'

Crossrail could end up costing as much as £19bn to complete – £4bn more than its original budget, a rail expert has claimed.

Michael Byng, who drew up the cost framework for Network Rail in light of frequent cost overruns on projects in CP5, has suggested Crossrail’s cost was likely to soar far beyond than the current £15.4bn figure.

Speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Byng said: “What concerns me on Crossrail is that people within the industry who have sought my advice over cost are suggesting that the £15bn budget could be well exceeded by as much as £4bn.

“Of course that is a lot of contractors’ claims and time delays, which are obviously subject to the negotiations and agreement; nevertheless the overrun is substantial.”

Crossrail is expected to further cost rises despite being given a £590m cash injection from central government in July.

The scheme has been hampered by delays in recent months and is now set to open in autumn 2019, almost a year later than previously planned.

Crossrail chairman Sir Terry Morgan said this week that he expected costs to rise, but could not confirm by how much.

Appearing on the same Radio 4 programme on Monday, Sir Terry said the cost increase could be announced “in coming weeks”.

Asked if he thought Crossrail would need more funding, he said: “I think it does. The testing around systems integration is still ongoing, there isn’t a train running as it should in the critical sections in the tunnels.

“I am expecting another announcement of additional funding, I don’t know how much.”

Mr Byng’s comments come as the cost of another flagship rail project – HS2 – continue to be scrutinised.

In his Today programme interview, Mr Byng cast doubt over whether HS2 could be built within the current budget of £55.7bn.

Asked about his own costs estimates, he said: “The figure I came up with for London to Birmingham phase is £55.99bn, so just under £56bn. That is design, construction and land purchase.”

HS2’s current budget for phase one is £26bn.

Mr Byng added: “It’s very difficult to see how you maintain an attractive cost-benefit analysis prepared in 2015 before the project received royal assent if the costs have probably doubled.”

A spokesman for HS2 said: “We don’t recognise Mr Byng’s figures or his analysis.

“HS2 is the first railway to be built north of London in over 100 years and will play a significant role in rebalancing our economy and joining up Britain.

“The government has set a budget for delivery of HS2 and we are working closely with our supply chain to ensure the project stays within it.”

Crossrail has been contacted for comment.

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