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Opinion: Mayor should have known of Crossrail delay

PUBLISHED: 08:00 23 September 2018

Havering's London Assembly Member Keith Prince.

Havering's London Assembly Member Keith Prince.

Archant

The well-publicised delay to the Crossrail project will have come as frustrating news to many residents in our part of London.

But Crossrail is the biggest construction project in Europe and one of the largest single infrastructure investments undertaken in the UK. Delays are understandable and indeed expected.

But I wish someone had told the mayor this. We are now learning that Sadiq Khan has failed to prepare for overruns – it turns out there is no Plan B.

This has significant ramifications, not least for the future of TfL’s finances.

The transport budget is already in a great deal of trouble, with the mayor’s partial fares freeze contributing to a financial black hole of almost £1billion.

The mayor’s plans to get the TfL budget back into the black were hugely reliant on Crossrail being completed on time and meeting very optimistic passenger targets.

This delay throws the Khan’s budget well out, which is to the detriment of all of us – further financial problems will only result in cuts to London’s existing transport network and more cancelled infrastructure upgrades.

I don’t only have concerns about the impact of this delay, I also have concerns about the way in which it was announced.

The mayor has already admitted that he didn’t find out about the delay until only a matter of days before it was announced, which seems extraordinary seeing as he chairs TfL.

It also emerged at recent meeting at City Hall that Crossrail bosses had raised concerns about the project overrunning days before reassuring MPs in Parliament that Crossrail was still due to be completed in December.

It should be the duty of politicians and public bodies to be straight with people and the Conservative group at City Hall will continue to hold their feet to the fire.

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