'Risks remain' on multi-billion Crossrail project

A Crossrail drill Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Considerable risks remain on London's Crossrail project, according to the Public Accounts Committee

MPs have praised the £15.8bn Crossrail project but have warned there are "considerable risks" in delivering the scheme by its target of 2019.

The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee said it was a "textbook example of how to get things right".

However, they added there could be risks in managing the transition from building the railway to operating it.

Rail minister Claire Perry said she had "every confidence" Crossrail would be completed on time.

'Broadly on schedule'

The line, which is due to be finished by 2019, will see trains running from Reading in Berkshire to the west of the capital and as far east as Shenfield in Essex.

The committee said the Crossrail programme was proceeding well and was on course to deliver value for money to the taxpayer.

However the MPs warned "with construction incomplete, considerable risks remain in delivering the programme by 2019, particularly managing the transition from building the railway to operating it, and delivering the Crossrail trains".

Image copyright PA
Image caption Crossrail is due to be completed by 2019 but its possible benefits have not been fully communicated to businesses, said the committee

The report added that Crossrail had a benefit-cost ratio of less than 2:1, meaning that for every £1 spent there would be a £2.10 benefit - however a ratio of 4:1 is considered to offer good value for money.

The committee also said the Department for Transport had not fully realised how the scheme would benefit London businesses, meaning that it had mixed success in securing contributions from businesses.

Heathrow Airport would now only provide £70m, which is less than a third of the funding it had originally agreed, MPs said.

Crossrail infrastructure is due to cost £14.8bn and its trains will cost a further £1bn.

'Textbook example'

Committee member Richard Bacon praised the delivery of the project, but said lessons needed to be learned about how to appraise transport projects.

"Major, complex infrastructure projects are notoriously difficult to deliver on time and in budget. With Crossrail we see a textbook example of how to get things right," the Conservative MP said.

Rail Minister Claire Perry said: "We have every confidence that Crossrail will be completed on time and, alongside Transport for London, we are working closely with the delivery company, Crossrail Ltd, to ensure it meets its construction timetable."

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