Transport for London (TfL) has threatened to mothball Crossrail if ministers do not agree another bailout, according to reports.
Sky News reported that London’s transport commissioner, Andy Byford, has written to Bernadette Kelly (pictured), permanent secretary at the Department for Transport, seeking an immediate cash injection of £80m to keep the cross-London rail project going and avoid what he called a ‘Doomsday scenario’.
According to Sky, which cited a Whitehall source, he wrote: ‘If agreement is not reached this week, we will have no option but to mothball the project and to seek alternative governance for its eventual completion.’
It was reported that Mr Byford told Ms Kelly that Crossrail was ‘no longer able to make any further financial commitments’.
Transport Network asked TfL to comment on the report, including confirming or denying that the letter as reported had been sent.
A TfL spokesperson said: ‘TfL, the Greater London Authority and government all continue to have discussions around the additional funding needed to complete the Crossrail project.’
Mick Cash, general secretary of the RMT union, said: ‘What's happening between the Government and TfL is nothing short of a disgrace. As we approach next year's London Mayoral Election it's clear the Government are using TfL and our members as a political football and rather than stick to their pledge of Building Back Better, they're starving TfL of vital funds and playing games with workers’ livelihoods.’
The Telegraph reported that Crossrail chief executive Mark Wild said he was ‘very confident’ that what will be known as the Elizabeth line will open within the current ‘window’ of between January and June 2022. However, it said a Crossrail source clarified that this assumes that additional Government funding is provided.
Mr Wild also called for an ‘honest conversation’ about the need to avoid incentivising senior executives on large infrastructure projects for failure.
He said: ‘Crossrail’s lessons are pretty profound. Crossrail hasn’t achieved its targets, has it? It has failed. Yet people were paid bonuses.’