London’s most senior transport chief is under pressure to quit after he was accused of “downplaying” the risk of delays to Crossrail, Europe’s biggest infrastructure project.
A new report urges Transport for London’s (TfL) commissioner Mike Brown to consider his position over claims he “watered down” problems with the planned east-west Elizabeth Line.
A blame game has now broken out and the troubled infrastructure project now runs the risk of losing a fourth top official before it even opens, with the project behind schedule and over budget.
Two former chief executives and the former chairman of Crossrail Ltd, a subsidiary of TfL responsible for building the line, have already left in just over a year.
The pressure on TfL and Crossrail Ltd’s current leadership is only likely to increase later on this month, when revised cost estimates and timetables are expected to be announced.
Crossrail said earlier this year it could not even commit to an opening date, after the original launch date of December 2018 was missed for the 188km line. Costs have already crept up from £15.9bn to £18.7bn, with the government forced to cough up the extra cash.
— London Assembly (@LondonAssembly) April 23, 2019
Caroline Pidgeon, a London Assembly member and chair of the transport committee which authored the report, said: “It is shameful that nobody at a senior level is willing to take responsibility for the failure of the project thus far.
“It is a complete tragedy that one of the most highly anticipated engineering projects the world has ever seen has found itself in a mess of overspending, mismanagement and an embarrassingly long delay.”
The report also warned the delays had “devastated” trade for some businesses near stations on the route.
But Transport for London has already hit back in stark terms at Pidgeon’s committee, which accused TfL’s commissioner of failing to accurately reflect Crossrail’s problem’s in weekly updates to the mayor.
A TfL spokeswoman told Yahoo Finance UK: “It is clear that the responsibility for the delay to the Crossrail project lies with the former management of Crossrail Ltd.
“It is entirely incorrect to suggest the transport commissioner, or anyone at TfL, kept any information from the Mayor.”
Meanwhile Shaun Bailey, the Conservative candidate for London mayor, took aim at his Labour rival Sadiq Khan: “Crossrail went off the rails on this mayor’s watch because he wasn’t interested in the strict oversight needed on London’s most important and expensive infrastructure project.”