The London Assembly's transport committee has recently released a report urging a strong and focused approach to ensure that the much-anticipated Crossrail project meets its revised 2022 opening date. The report titled "Crossrail: Light at the end of the tunnel?" highlights several potential risks to the project's timely completion, including a lack of specialist engineers, optimism bias, and inadequate project management.
To address these concerns, the committee has put forth seven recommendations, including sharing a high-level timeline, creating a clear plan to address project vacancies, involving Jacobs as the project representative, and enhancing Network Rail's role within the new governance structure. The report also raises concerns about resource levels, with Crossrail CEO Mark Wild acknowledging that there is a "big risk" of engineers leaving to work on other projects.
The committee emphasises the need for a Sherlock-style forensic focus to ensure that no aspect of delivering the project on time and on budget is missed. Inadequate project management could lead to overspending, and the committee stresses that no one should be complacent in the final phase of the project. The report expresses concern about a lack of sufficient resources and specialist skills to complete the final phase of the project, particularly with regards to testing, safety assurance, and linking up digital assets.
Despite these concerns, TfL senior management remains optimistic about the project, with Commissioner Andy Byford setting his team the target of getting the line open this year and under its revised budget. Byford believes that opening the Elizabeth line would symbolise London's "phoenix-like resurgence" from Covid. He welcomes the London Assembly's recognition of the importance of the Crossrail project and assures everyone that his focus remains on safely opening the Elizabeth line as soon as possible.
Overall, the report highlights the need for a strong and focused approach to ensure that the Crossrail project meets its revised 2022 opening date. With concerns raised about a lack of resources and specialist skills, and the potential for overspending due to inadequate project management, it is essential that all parties involved in the project work together to ensure its successful completion. Byford's optimism and determination are commendable, and with a Sherlock-style forensic focus, the project can overcome the challenges and deliver a safe and efficient service to Londoners.