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Crossrail electrical explosion ‘caused delay’

The catalyst behind the delay to Crossrail was an electrical explosion at Pudding Mill Lane station last year according to the mayor of London.

Appearing before the London Assembly to answer questions on the delay, Sadiq Khan revealed that testing had to be pushed back following the failure of two voltage transformers caused by a design error, which resulted in an electrical explosion.

Mr Khan suggested the blast at Pudding Mill Lane delayed testing schedules as the project entered its final year.

“The electrical explosion at Pudding Mill Lane last year both delayed testing and illustrated the risks facing such a large-scale project.

“And of course because it’s the last stage of the project there is no opportunity to catch up on any delays.”

Mr Khan said he was “extremely disappointed, frustrated and angry” with the delay, which he said he only learned about in August, after he had worked with the Department of Transport and Transport for London to secure an additional £300m in funding for the scheme.

The mayor said he was looking “for answers” on the delay and the impact on funding and had commissioned two independent assessments to this end.

Also before the assembly was Crossrail chairman Sir Terry Morgan, who said that the delay had been a result of “a combination of delays on construction” and “the complexities of testing the new software systems”.

Sir Terry came under fire from Liberal Democrat assembly member Caroline Pidgeon who asked him what had suddenly changed on the project.

Ms Pidgeon said she’d visited the site in the summer with the Crossrail chairman who’d assured her that the line would open in December, even giving her a specific date.

Sir Terry, who’s appointment as HS2 chairman was criticised by Lord Adonis earlier this week, told the committee he couldn’t express how disappointed he was that the project had been delayed

“I won’t use the word anger, but can I just express how disappointed we are to find ourselves in this position. It’s not easy to make a decision like this,” he said.

Crossrail chief executive Simon Wright was also quizzed by the politicians. He referred to the electrical explosion as being a key factor in the delay, adding that poor productivity during the testing of trains had been a factor.

When Mr Wright was asked why Crossrail had not informed bosses of the potential of a delay as challenges on the project mounted, the CEO said the body thought they could find solutions that would allow them to meet the original deadline.

“[We] tried to do all sorts of things”, he said. “Pressure was rising, but we felt we could find a solution.”

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