Crossrail States its Costing Position


Crossrail Ltd have released a statement reiterating their current stance with regards to savings. The statement can be read in full here.

Broadly speaking, the statement largely confirms much that was already known. Crossrail indicate that they do not currently consider any major descoping to be an option. They also highlight the various actions that have already been taken to limit costs.

This includes the redesign of Whitechapel which is estimated to save approximately £30m (we previously covered this redesign here) and the work cost submission Network Rail made earlier this month.

Generally, there is little new in there, merely a reminder that the project has already been watching its budget line – the fact that the project will reuse infrastructure such as the old NLL line and the Connaught Tunnel (our photos of the tunnel are here) gets a mention, for example. There are some hints, however, at other savings areas that might be considered. Notably, the statement suggests Crossrail have been investigating whether stations are “appropriately sized” proportional to passenger forecasts. Shortening platforms and/or rolling stock has been one option that various sources have suggested might be under consideration as a cost saving option, but Crossrail claim that this is not something they are currently considering, with the rolling stock still due to be 10-car as indicated to the market earlier this year.

Ultimately, the final damage that the current round of cost-saving will do to the project remains to be seen. There seems very little “fat” that can actually be skimmed. Indeed as we have highlighted before, although the headline price of £16bn for the project is that which is most commonly referred to by commentators and politicians, the actual financial breakdown is far more complex, with only £5.5bn coming directly from central government over half of which has now already been spent.

Intriguingly, Christian Wolmar suggested earlier this month that the DfT had already agreed its forthcoming saving cuts with the Treasury, but they were noticably absent from the list of departments with agreed commitments that the Treasury later released (the Cabinet Office, the Foreign Office, the Treasury itself and Environment & Communities). It seems we will have to wait a little longer to find out the final impact.

Finally, the statement also includes a good summary of Crossrail work so far. This is quoted in full below:

Bond Street – Demolitions are ongoing, and utility diversions are currently under way.

Canary Wharf – Our partners at Canary Wharf Group continue to make excellent progress. Construction is on time and on budget, with a section of the North Dock now fully drained – nearly 100 million litres of water removed. Piling is complete, a slab is being laid on the dock floor and excavation of the station box gets underway next month.

Farringdon – Network Rail has completed the demolition of Cardinal Tower and has started the piling for the foundations of the new western ticket hall to serve Thameslink and Crossrail. Demolition work to facilitate construction of the eastern ticket hall has begun.

Liverpool Street – Contracts have been awarded for demolitions, site facilities and enabling works at Finsbury Circus, Moorgate and Blomfield Street. As part of the contracts enabling works will also be undertaken on Liverpool Street station.

Paddington – The disused taxi ramp at Paddington has been demolished along with a redundant London Underground ticket hall. Piling work for the foundations of the new Hammersmith & City line stations is now 70 per cent complete. Over 300 tonnes of concrete and other material has been removed from site.

Royal Oak Tunnel Portal – Preparatory work at the Royal Oak tunnel portal site got underway in January 2010. Work on the Royal Oak tunnel portal involves construction of a 190 metre diaphragm walled box to form the foundation for a tunnel boring machine launch. Construction of the actual tunnel portal got underway in late August with the first section of the diaphragm wall installed.

Tottenham Court Road – Following the excellent progress that has been made by London Underground on the eastern ticket hall, enabling works for the western ticket hall are now underway with good progress being made with demolitions and necessary utility diversions.

Whitechapel – The construction of a working platform over the East London Line has commenced.

Rolling stock – Crossrail will start the procurement process in late 2010 for 60 new trains to operate on the Crossrail route.

Stations – Further central route station planning applications will be submitted to relevant planning authorities during the coming months as will the first oversite development application. The major station construction contracts will not be awarded until 2011.

Written by John Bull
John Bull is the Editor of London Reconnections. A transport journalist and historian, his writing often focuses on the political or strategic challenges facing London's transport network and beyond.