26 January 2014 | Gurjit Degun
Failure to meet the deadline to award a contract for the trains for Crossrail could cause delays to the start of some services and reduction in the programme’s benefits.
That’s the warning from the National Audit Office (NAO) which praised the Department for Transport (DfT) and Transport for London (TfL) for protecting taxpayers’ interests in Crossrail but added that “a number of significant risks and challenges remain", including delivery of the trains. The Crossrail project will build new railway connections between central London and the South East.
It said that the process of awarding the contract for the trains “has suffered some delay due to a change in the approach to funding the procurement”.
The DfT and TfL initially said this should be funded through a Private Finance Initiative deal – a contract with private sector companies to finance the trains. However, it was later agreed that public procurement was a better solution, and TfL will buy the trains at an estimated cost of £1 billion, funding it mainly through borrowing. DfT has contributed £100 million.
The NAO report said: “Crossrail will not be fully operational for another six years. Risks remain in a number of areas. For example awarding the contract to manufacture the trains by April 2014. Failure to do so could result in delays to services starting and a reduction in benefits. This process has suffered delays as a result of the decision to change the method of funding, but the sponsors are focused on achieving this date.”
It added: “The late decision to change funding of the rolling stock introduced a new delivery risk, but this is now being managed.”
A spokesman at TfL also told SM that everything is on track to meet the April deadline.