Government to lend Greater London Authority money to cover funding shortfall
Elizabeth line train. Picture: TfL
A agreement has been signed which provides funding for the last phase of the much delayed Crossrail project.
The Mayor of London, Transport for London (TfL), the Department for Transport (DfT) and HM Treasury have confirmed an agreed funding and financing package. Earlier in the month fears had been raised by Andy Byford, the London transport commissioner, that without a funding agreement the project would have to be mothballed.
Crossrail Ltd announced in August that it expected the Elizabeth line to open through central London in the first half of 2022 if additional funding above the originally agreed amount was provided.
This funding shortfall will now initially be covered by the Greater London Authority (GLA) borrowing up to £825m from the DfT which will be given by GLA to TfL as a grant. The GLA will repay this loan from Business Rate Supplement (BRS) and Mayoral Community Infrastructure Levy (MCIL) revenues.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said, “Securing this financing package enables us to press full steam ahead with getting the central section of the Elizabeth line open as soon as possible. The Government have insisted London must pay the shortfall – despite the overwhelming majority of the tax income that will result from Crossrail going to the Treasury. This is another example of London supporting the country way over and above the help we get from this government. I do not want this project to be stalled so it is vital that we dig deep to get the railway up and running. I will continue to monitor progress closely and do everything I can to minimise costs - helping ensure London and beyond can enjoy its many benefits sooner rather than later.”
Keith Prince, GLA Conservative Transport Spokesman, said, “Yet again, the Government has had to step in and bail Sadiq Khan out. This deal will get Crossrail done but only if Khan keeps his eye on the ball and ensures there are no more delays to this vital project.”
Mark Wild, Chief Executive, Crossrail Ltd, said: “Delivery of the Elizabeth line is now in its complex final stages. Good progress continues to be made with completing the remaining infrastructure works so that we begin intensive operational testing, known as Trial Running, at the earliest opportunity in 2021. Many of the stations are now nearing completion and we will shortly commence an enabling phase for Trial Running which allows testing in the tunnels to be undertaken with an increased number of trains, further helping to build operational reliability. We are doing everything possible to deliver the Elizabeth line as safely and quickly as we can.”
Governance of Crossrail transferred directly to TfL in October, with the aim of simplifying responsibilities and ensuring decision making is seamless. A special purpose committee of the TfL Board, the Elizabeth Line Committee, provides high-level oversight of the project, the first meeting took place last week. The project remains a jointly sponsored by TfL and the DfT and an independent DfT representative will attend the committee meetings.
Minister for Transport Grant Shapps said on Twitter, “We’re committed to getting Crossrail delivered Train. A new loan of £825m we’ve agreed today is a fair deal for taxpayers across the UK, helping @TfL get the project up and running.”
When fully open, TfL says the Elizabeth line will increase central London's rail capacity by 10 per cent, able to carry more than half a million passengers per day.
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December 1, 2020