Crossrail delay reactions
PUBLISHED: 07:00 03 September 2018
Officials in south east London have been left "bitterly disappointed" after it was revealed the capital's new east-west train line would miss its opening date by nearly a year.
The Elizabeth Line service, from Paddington to Abbey Wood, was set to open in December before rail bosses said more testing time is needed “to ensure a safe and reliable railway for customers from day one of passenger service”.
It comes just a month after it was revealed the project is running almost £600m over budget with extra funding required to complete the work.
When it is eventually fully opened, trains will run from Reading and Heathrow in the west through 13 miles of new tunnels to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east.
Teresa Pearce, Abbey Wood’s MP, said: “I am disappointed but not surprised. In recent conversations with them there has been a reticence to discuss the opening date.
“I am concerned that this announcement has been made so late in the day but that said it is an amazing engineering project and has the ability to transform journey times for many of my constituents.”
Greenwich Council leader, cllr Danny Thorpe, added: “We are bitterly disappointed that the Elizabeth Line will not be opening as planned this year, and I know that many of our residents will also be upset at this news.
“Abbey Wood and Woolwich have already started seeing the benefit of the ‘Crossrail effect’, with new hundreds of homes being built and businesses opening. This will continue, and I am sure that it will be worth the wait when it finally does open.”
The ten year project is predicted to boost the economy by £42bn, but it will be delayed whilst tests are carried out to ensure services are “guaranteed to be safe and reliable.”
Abbey Wood is controlled by two local authorities, Greenwich and Bexley councils.
Extending Crossrail even further into the borough has been a priority for Bexley council, which has an ambitious growth strategy for more than 35,000 new homes in the next 50 years.
Council bosses have called for the Elizabeth Line to go past Abbey Wood, through Bexley and out to Dartford and Ebbsfleet, claiming it would be a critical piece of infrastructure.
Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, said it was “obviously disappointing” that Crossrail has pushed back its opening.
He commented: “This has been a ten-year construction project and is one of the most complex engineering schemes ever undertaken,” the Mayor said in a statement, “It is essential that a safe and reliable railway operates from day one, and this has to be the top priority.”
Once it does open, commuters in Abbey Wood will be able to get to Liverpool Street Station in just 17 minutes.
Matthew Pennycook, MP for Greenwich and Woolwich, which will benefit from a new station, said: “I am very disappointed to learn that the opening of the Crossrail line’s central section is being delayed from December until Autumn next year and I know my disappointment will be shared by a great many of my constituents”.