The decision to delay the opening of Crossrail by nine months has been branded “a shambles” by the chairman of the body currently investigating TfL’s finances.
Gareth Bacon, chairman of the London Assembly Budget and Performance, said the project’s management had “clearly known” about the delay “for some time and yet have been elusive when discussing their financial woes with the London Assembly and so with the people of London”.
A section of Crossrail will miss its December opening date and will be delayed by nine months, a spokesman for the project said.
The Elizabeth Line between between Paddington and Abbey Wood is now scheduled to begin operating in autumn of 2019.
In a statement, Crossrail Limited said more time was needed to “complete the final infrastructure and extensive testing required to ensure... a safe and reliable railway”.
The railway is known as Crossrail during the construction phase but will become the Elizabeth line once services begin.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has called the nine-month delay to the opening of the Elizabeth Line “disappointing” but added ensuring a “safe and reliable” railway had to be the main concern.
He added: “This has been a 10-year construction project and is one of the most complex engineering schemes ever undertaken.
“It is essential that a safe and reliable railway operates from day one, and this has to be the top priority.”
The first section between Liverpool Street and Shenfield has already opened, albeit under the branding of TFL Rail.
Keith Prince, the Conservatives’ transport spokesman in the London Assembly, claimed Khan should “take responsibility” for the Crossrail delay.
He said: “Make no mistake, when Sadiq Khan inherited Crossrail it was on time and on budget. He now needs to take responsibility and explain to Londoners how he will clear up this mess.”
Once fully operational the trains will run from Reading and Heathrow in the west to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east, utilising 13 miles of new tunnels.
Crossrail Limited described the 10-year project as “hugely complex”, stating that the original timetable for testing has been reduced by contractors needing more time to complete work in the central tunnels and develop software.
The firm insisted that “the focus remains” on opening the full east-west line “as soon after the central tunnels open as possible”.
Mark Wild, London Underground and Elizabeth line managing director, said: “We will continue to work closely with Crossrail Limited as they complete the remaining railway infrastructure work and testing needed to deliver the new railway.
“The delayed opening is disappointing, but ensuring the Elizabeth line is safe and reliable for our customers from day one is of paramount importance.”
Last month the cost of the project’s budget was increased from £14.8 billion to £15.4bn due to “cost pressures”.