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Crossrail revises construction plan after cost concerns

Crossrail has made changes to its delivery plan as part of a drive by the body behind the £14.8bn rail project to mitigate cost overruns and delays on the scheme.

Transport for London board papers, published yesterday, revealed significant “cost and schedule pressures” on the scheme had led to contingency plans now being implemented by Crossrail, including the rephasing and rescheduling of works.   

Crossrail, which is due to be fully operational by December next year, is currently 90 per cent complete but TfL admitted there was still a lot of work that needed to be carried out, including construction, systems installation, and the testing of new infrastructure.  

However, the papers said that despite delays to the stations, they would be ready when Crossrail’s central section opens this December. 

TfL commissioner Mike Brown said: “Crossrail is continuing to actively manage the increased cost and schedule pressures and has developed a revised delivery schedule that sets out the programme to achieve opening of the Elizabeth line.

“We are actively monitoring and escalating concerns at the highest level with the companies involved in delivering this vital project.”

A number of contractors are still working on the Crossrail project including the Alstom, TSO and Costain JV which is delivering the fit out and commissioning of the Crossrail tunnels.

Part of the rescheduling of work comes following a number of hold-ups to the project in the last couple of months, particularly around the energisation of overhead lines in its tunnels. 

In a London Assembly committee meeting last month, deputy mayor for transport Val Shawcross revealed that a design error led to a failure of two voltage transformers and an electrical explosion. The failure occurred during the initial energisation of electrical equipment at the Pudding Mill Lane substation last year. This led to the energisation work being deferred from November 2017 to January 2018.

Mr Brown said Crossrail had achieved energisation in early February and the testing of trains begun on 25 February.

The board papers also revealed that cold weather earlier this month led to some disruption on tunnel work but TfL said this would not have any significant impact on the delivery schedule.

Two weeks ago TfL’s finance committee revealed Crossrail was already £190m over budget for this financial year, with work on Whitechapel, Farringdon, Woolwich and Bond Street running behind schedule.

Last week it was revealed that Crossrail chief executive Andrew Wolstenholme would be leaving the organisation after seven years leading the project.

Mr Wolstenholme is joining an unnamed private company in May, while also joining HS2’s board as a non-executive member. Mr Wolstenholme will be replaced by Crossrail’s current programme director Simon Wright, who will combine his existing role with that of chief executive.

A spokesman for Crossrail said: ”The Elizabeth line is being delivered within its available funding. Overall the Crossrail project, which is now 90 per cent complete, remains on time.

”Construction and fit-out of the new Elizabeth line stations and tunnels is advanced with intensive work underway. The infrastructure testing phase has commenced as we operate one train, and subsequently more, in the tunnel.

”From the summer, Crossrail will begin handing over the completed infrastructure to Transport for London for operational testing. However, there are some increasing cost and schedule pressures that Crossrail Ltd continues to manage and we have implemented a revised delivery schedule which prioritises delivery of systems including communications, ventilation and platform screen doors that are critical to the operational railway.

”The Elizabeth line remains on course to open as planned in December 2018.”

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