Crossrail confusion - were we told all the facts?

Crossrail confusion - were we told all the facts?

Posted 06 October, 2018 at 13:21

Author Mark Bradshaw on behalf of Pronounce Concierge Service

On 6 September, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan told the London Assembly that Crossrail had not informed him of the delay to opening Crossrail until 29 August. Yet Transport for London (TfL) was definitely told of a likely delay on 19 July. It seems highly likely that the Mayor, as Chair of TfL, would have been briefed then too and Crossrail informed the Assembly it had briefed the Mayor on 26 July.

The London Assembly Transport Committee has been trying to get to the bottom of when Crossrail, Transport for London and the Mayor of London first knew the Crossrail opening was likely to be delayed.

Evidence was gathered from the Mayor, TfL and Crossrail in a full Assembly meeting on September 6 and a Transport Committee meeting on September 12.

The Committee has identified grave discrepancies in the evidence gathered from these meetings, which leads Members to conclude they have been misled.

In a letter to the Mayor, the London Assembly Transport Committee calls for clarity on when he, Crossrail and TfL first knew that the launch would be delayed. Also, it calls for the Mayor to learn lessons and ensure openness regarding public projects going forward.

The Transport Committee also recently learnt of a statement TfL made to the London Stock Exchange on 24 July 2018, which made no mention of the delay. Crossrail informed TfL ‘they could no longer have confidence in the date of opening’ on 19 July.

The Committee has written to the Financial Conduct Authority for clarification on this issue.

Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM, Chair of the London Assembly Transport Committee said;

“The evidence we have received shows it is highly likely that the Mayor was informed on or soon after 19 July that there was very likely to be a delay. It may have been justified to wait for clearer information before a public announcement. However, it is arguable that maintaining that he was completely uninformed is misleading.

“It is also an absurd situation to have the TfL Board publicly discuss a Crossrail paper suggesting the project is on track, as it did on 25 July 2018, before turning off the cameras for the ‘real’ discussion where bad news was shared.

“As Chair of TfL, the Mayor is directly responsible for this practice, which must end. We demand that all Crossrail discussions by the TfL Board and its sub-committees are held in public. Where commercially sensitive items need to be discussed in private, agenda papers and minutes should still be published and these must be kept to a minimum.

“The Transport Committee very much looks forward to the opening of the Elizabeth Line and the huge benefits it will bring to Londoners once it arrives. However, the Mayor needs to be held accountable for the apparent secrecy and misleading information regarding the details of this project. Such practices must not be repeated in future projects such as Crossrail 2.”

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