Building Magazine reported this week that the government is considering cuts to Crossrail totalling £5 billion — almost a third of the project’s total £15.9 billion budget — in a worst-case scenario. Possible cuts include the Crossrail stations at Bond Street and Tottenham Court Road, cutting the number of carriages per train from 12 to 10, or abandoning extensions to Maidenhead and Abbey Wood.
Whilst Crossrail refused to comment on the specific cutbacks, supporters have been out in force. Boris Johnson was in a bullish mood when quoted in the Evening Standard, saying “I caution my friend the Chancellor not to start gutting this vital infrastructure project.” And, said Stephen Norris, TfL board member:
The government needs to understand the difference between the kind of spending that fills ad pages in the Society Guardian and genuine investment in the country.If you’re going to cut Abbey Wood or Maidenhead you might as well shelve the whole lot. It only makes sense to dig the tunnel if you do the whole scheme. It’s like planning to buy a new car without an engine.
…although Construction Enquirer found a source more circumspect on the project’s future:
It hardly makes sense to build a new route but not major stations along it – where would people get on and off? There is already a rather large hole at Tottenham Court Road where the station works are taking place and the same goes for Canary Wharf.This will be more of a value engineering exercise and reports that £5bn could be cut look well wide of the mark – that is nearly a third of the project cost.
The same article in Building Magazine suggests that Network Rail may consider dropping the £3 billion remodelling of London Bridge, in addition to £100 million of cuts it was asked to make this week, quoting a source as saying: “The question is, can we achieve better frequency on Thameslink without having to spend £3-3.5bn on the full London Bridge upgrade?”