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Crossrail 'shameful' delays: London Assembly call for transport commissioner to resign

PUBLISHED: 17:00 23 April 2019 | UPDATED: 18:32 23 April 2019

Whitechapel Crossrail platform... up to three years' delay opening, like rest of Crossrail. Picture: Monica Wells

Whitechapel Crossrail platform... up to three years' delay opening, like rest of Crossrail. Picture: Monica Wells

Monica Wells/Crossrail

Crossrail chiefs "didn't have the skills" to understand risks of delaying the £17billion 'super tube' construction becoming apparent, a scathing attack today by the London Assembly has revealed.

Tunnelling competed on time... but Tunnelling competed on time... but "nobody at a senior level is willing to take responsibility for its failure". Picture: John Zammit

Email warnings to the Mayor of London were “watered down” by TfL Commissioner Mike Brown who failed to 'flag' warnings in time about its completion, according to a transport committee report on getting Crossrail “back on track”.

Calls are now being made for the TfL commissioner's resignation with the report saying he “must reflect on whether he is fit to continue to fulfil his role”.

Fears raised by the independent reviewer as early as January last year “were largely ignored” while the desire to achieve a completion date “overpowered any professional and critical assessment of risk”.

The Mayor and TfL board are being called on by the Assembly to “take more control” of the project they are accountable for, with future schemes being more transparent and having accountability on all levels.

London Assembly's transport chair Caroline Pidgeon... London Assembly's transport chair Caroline Pidgeon... "Crossrail is now in a mess of overspending, mismanagement and an embarrassingly long delay." Pictures: City Hall (inset) and Monica Wells

Thousands of people who have invested in areas around Crossrail stations such as Whitechapel and Canary Wharf or those with small businesses have had to deal with major financial losses, the Assembly points out.

“Crossrail's name is now tarnished with shame,” transport committee chair Caroline Pidgeon said.

“The inability of senior figures to push past their obsession with a December 2018 launch date is one of the main reasons why their dream didn't become a reality.

“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.”

Crossrail... Crossrail... "The London taxpayer will have to foot the bill until its completion." Picture: Mike Brooke

Crossrail's former chairman Sir Terry Morgan quit last year when the delays were first exposed.

But evidence now suggests that it was City Hall's own transport commissioner Mike Brown “who was at the centre of decisions to dilute important information sent to the Mayor”.

The Assembly's transport chair added: “It is shameful that nobody at a senior level is willing to take responsibility for the failure of the project.

“Vital lessons must be learned by the Mayor, TfL and Crossrail so we all can bring this sorry chapter to a close. London taxpayers will have to foot the bill until Crossrail's completion.”

Crossrail ex-chairman Sir Terry Morgan in happier times at Whitechapel station in 2017... when London's 'super tube' was on track, on time and on budget. Picture: Mike BrookeCrossrail ex-chairman Sir Terry Morgan in happier times at Whitechapel station in 2017... when London's 'super tube' was on track, on time and on budget. Picture: Mike Brooke

The central section from Whitechapel and Canary Wharf through the City and West End to Paddington should have opened in December.

But its failings have led to its unprecedented delay with the opening now pushed back to “a mystery date yet to be announced” and the costs rocketing by another £2bn at least.

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