As most of us will know by now, Crossrail wont open for yet another year, possibly more. Its now being said November 2019 is what we should be looking at. Anyhow the Crossrail delays came as a shock to most who had not been keeping track of what was going on. But was it really a shock? I had to laugh when I saw the news headlines at Warren Street on the 31st August as I made my way home from a meeting, the deferment of a grand opening being something I had expected for a long time.
Warren Street’s news headlines – delayed by one year
For those of us who had long suspected, it seems insiders most definitely knew the project was screwed long before any of us had real insight. I had great suspicions when I wrote my earlier posts however I was slated for having no clue of how construction worked, so I rather instead toed the party line. But looking at the stations in question, namely Bond Street (Davies Street and Hannover Square) even the most recent claims (mid September 2018) that ‘Bond Street’ would have indeed been ready for December 2018 amount to what can only be a huge a joke. I have included some tweets at the bottom of the page to illustrate the dreadful state London’s new railway has been found in.
As far as I know only the stations Canary Wharf to Abbey Wood have any real completed status (bar Woolwich.) Those westwards to Paddington are in various states of completion, but none no-where near sufficient enough status to consider a December opening. Many say Whitechapel is in a dire state. I cant verify that because there’s little on the surface to indicate the actual state of the Crossrail bit, unlike the other stations westwards of Whitechapel. However one can see the Overground parts are rather behind if anyone was considering a December opening.
As for Bond Street, its bloody terrible! Anyone thinking or claiming it would be open in December 2018 is simply living in cloud cuckoo land. I have indeed said Bond Street would be open for a December Crossrail opening but I very clearly point to the new bits of the tube station which gives direct access (albeit with a long walk) to the Crossrail platforms. The actual Crossrail station itself (ticket halls, etc) in no way look like they could be opened at any time soon.
Bond Street – No way would the Davis Street ticket hall be opened by December 2018!
The exact same goes for Tottenham Court Road, the new tube station areas would have given full access to Crossrail (new tube ticket hall and direct escalators to Crossrail) even if the actual station buildings in Dean Street were not complete. The Dean Street side is quite well completed but there’s still evidence of delays and it would have been a push to complete by December – although it could have been done by enabling a certain amount of works to be allowed to continue as the station itself became live.
Hanover Square – oversite now taking shape but the station itself is considerably behind
Farringdon is still questionable. I would think by now (as at all the other sites, Bond Street, Paddington, Liverpool Street/Moorgate) hoardings would have begun to be seen coming down but that’s not the case yet. At Farringdon they have retracted some hoardings but to get the station itself opened would have probably required the access via Thameslink to be used. I can’t really say for sure. It is known however when the Farringdon works were thrown open to the public this summer just part of the platforms could be viewed because it was just a small section that had been completed. The most popularly viewed videos showed just a quick glimpse of the station and thus its not easy to see exactly how complete it was. The Financial Times however says its sources knew Farringdon was way behind.
I didn’t go to any of the open days, let’s face it Crossrail doesn’t really wish to accommodate disabled people on its open days! We are the last to see anything. So other ways have to be found to see what Farringdon Crossrail station really looked like (apart from what one reads in the news.) This video by Billy Millest has few views and is a long one – but at least he’s taken the time and trouble to really explore the station and one can see the atrocious state of the premises. Looking at the walls and escalators and other areas, its difficult to really think anybody was planning on getting it ready for December! A huge amount of wall still needed to be tiled, faced with the white material or whatever. The floors have not even been done! Don’t forget in that time well before December station equipment needed to be fitted (barriers, ticket machines, CCTV, you know, the whole lot needed to run a station effectively.) This means a reasonable completion date after which time new staff need to be employed and trained, testing of equipment undertaken, and the rest of it.
Station frontage at Hanover Sq – Anyone really think this would have opened in December?
At Bond Street the hoardings were recently extended and more public access closed off! This is the converse of what anyone was expecting. One would have thought at this stage work would begin to retract some of the working site area. Instead they have enlarged it – in the process they have taken over the eastern portion of Weighhouse Street and shoved this road behind new hoardings! In fact this was done BEFORE the August 31st deadline and when I observed it I thought it odd why they would be doing that at such a late stage – especially as they were insisting (then) the new railway would still open in December 2018. I keep looking at the Bond Street ticket hall and so far I’ve never seen any infrastructure installed in there. Its basically remained an empty shell ever since the day it was put up. Yes there are new windows at the side and they have now at this really very late stage actually begun the ticket hall work. This is late August, just before their bosses decided December the 9th was just impossible.
Also before the 31st August revelation that the line was to be delayed, TfL had done some more work (power cabling etc) in readiness for the new sidings at Farringdon/Barbican/Moorgate, this in anticipation of the site being finally released by Crossrail Ltd. Clearly this work has been a bit premature given the state of Crossrail. At no stage soon does it seem anyone will be clearing the site at Barbican in order that TfL can extend new tracks through there for the purpose of stabling of its trains. Not only that it shows one side of TfL (the live, operational side, eg the tube) has little communication with the other TfL side (the construction side eg Crossrail.) TfL cant really do much else.
I have looked at Liverpool Street and Moorgate many times, and asked myself if it would open in December. Well the answer as we know now is most definitely no. Broadgate, just take a look at that, there’s a huge hole in the middle of the site and it shows no sign of being closed up any time soon. The Moorgate frontage is no less questionable. It looks miles away from completion. At least the frontage at Woolwich looks far more complete! I have seen the new copper frontage with the rifle barrel marks several times and its getting done. (on the other hand the commemorative mural destined for the side of Woolwich station is most definitely late as it was supposed to be up by July! There was no sign of it in August.)
It does not seem things will speed up at any time soon. Indeed as I write it’s said Crossrail has laid off 800 workers. That as well as droves of construction staff who are heading for jobs at the new Spurs stadium (tempted by offers of £400 a day.) The Sun newspaper made much noise of this in the last few days but its not really new stuff, its been happening since more or less since the electricians strikes at Woolwich in January of 2018. Its clear from observations the number of staff at the Crossrail sites has bombed.
Anyone at home? Security staff at Paddington probably made redundant too….
In retrospect its agreed the rot set in when the transformer blew up at Pudding Lane. Insiders however say the whole Crossrail ethos has been plagued by shoddy work. See the picture in one of the tweets below showing a most appalling installation at a so far unknown Crossrail location involving 25KV cabling. Yes I’ve read that several stations including Paddington has to be completely ripped out and redone. Crossrail’s bosses claimed this hadn’t in any way impinged on total progress. These things do of course enable projects to slip badly and there was probably a domino effect that was difficult to arrest – coupled with many staff leaving for better wages elsewhere such as the Spurs stadium. It seems in desperation bosses were paying construction workers money to do nothing to prevent them being led towards other more tempting jobs.
Who knows, the much touted station openings during 2018 were designed to give London the impression Crossrail was on time and on budget when it was not even anywhere completion! Look at the video by Billy Millest. As well as a domino effect, it is well known the very lateness of the project has caused staff to sit idly by whilst trains are tested in the tunnels and this is not what was planned. The lateness of the construction works and the attempts to run trains as early as they could (even though that too was late) has not helped. The original plans was that by the early summer the whole railway would be relatively complete and ready for testing, stations, platforms, escalators, railway lines, and the rest of it. This has not happened. The warning signs were there months ago and yet London was wholly led to believe the ‘on time and on budget’ mantra really stood true in regards to its new fangled ‘tube’ line! And the Government (plus TfL/Network rail) agreed to give Crossrail a further £590 million in order to enable it meet the deadline. See the Minister of Transport’s statement for 24th July 2018. Funnily enough at the time TfL itself was still insisting in its official documents Crossrail would be opened on the 9th December.
Silent sorrow for empty Crossrail sites. Where are the staff? Paddington as seen two days ago
In fact the very month Crossrail bosses knew their line was f**cked, this being July 2018, the Government were announcing it was, yes, the magic ‘on time’ mantra but needing a bit extra cash injection to enable it to complete by December 2018. So we had the big news Crossrail needed some extra finance. And what? At the time the news was being made that it needed more money (24th July 2018) Crossrail bosses already knew their new railway was utterly screwed but they were not letting on. Indeed they had known a few days earlier (the 19th July 2018) the line would almost without a doubt not be opening in December regardless of any new cash injection. On that day, the 19th, Crossrail and TfL bosses both were faced with the harsh truth, however TfL asked Crossrail to see if they could somehow shuffle their cards to keep the big promise for December. Don’t want to disappoint the Queen do we? After all it’s being called the Elizabeth Line! That didn’t work of course. After what seems like six weeks of deliberations, on August 31st 2018 the big announcement the transport bosses so feared had to be made. Crossrail would open at least a year later than planned.
UPDATE 22/09/2018: Crossrail’s chairman Terry Morgan admits at this late stage they do not have a Class 345 train fully ready for testing! See RAIL.
Here is a round up of tweets that give some idea of the problems behind Crossrail. Some claims are shocking but have been subtly known about for ages. My policy now is to screencap all tweets so if any should be taken down the images I have taken can be used instead. Anyway here goes, some very interesting tweets to be read…. some you may have already seen, some not!
Crossrail knew most definitely on 19th July 2018:
19th July Crossrail Board told : no longer confidence in Dec opening date. Exec told to go away and do more work to make sure no mitigation.
— Tom Edwards (@BBCTomEdwards) September 12, 2018
Ages ago the construction staff knew their new line was severely delayed:
Much like Crossrail. I was looking at houses at the weekend & the Estate Agent was telling me he does letting for a lot of the workers on Crossrail. They all extended their stays ages ago as they knew they’d be delayed. For SK to say he only just found out is not believable.
— Matthew Woods (@MatthewPWoods) September 13, 2018
Did Sadiq really know the full truth – or not? There are various opinions, such as this from Caroline Pidgeon, on how much our esteemed London Mayor knew. It seems from this he was somewhat misled, in other words he wasn’t given the full information he should have had from Crossrail.
Committee chair Caroline Pidgeon says this is not what AMs were told last week when the Mayor said he'd only known a few days before the formal announcement of the delay. Crossrail backtrack a bit and says Mayor didn't have the same amount of into as he did at end of August
— MayorWatch (@MayorWatch) September 12, 2018
There is still some doubt as to the actual costs. The direct Bakerloo to Crossrail link at Paddington (involving new passageways and escalators) is often in debate as its said this wasn’t part of the actual Crossrail budget. I think it was an extra and thus totally separate from Crossrail’s costs. Who knows. The fact is someone had to pay for it! There are other areas of budgetary concern as the following tweet shows:
Entrance to Crossrail from the Bakerloo at Paddington. Now to be a year late coming into use!
Just as a reminder here is a sample of the cost overruns (some are several hundreds of million over contract award) for the early works on #crossrail @MayorWatch Don't doubt that there is plenty more being kept hidden pic.twitter.com/L3ZHpOnIV1
— Peoples Audit (@PeoplesAudit) September 6, 2018
The ‘hokey cokey’ line as some viewed Crossrail:
#Crossrail’s problems were the worst kept secret in the construction industry. Workers refer to it as the “hokey cokey” line, after they were told to put things in & take them out; fitting out parts of stations & then being told they had been wrongly designed👍#GE2018NOW https://t.co/q0o6GsG1VN
— russjackson (@docrussjackson) September 3, 2018
The quality of Crossrail workmanship was truly dreadful (if the images are to be believed):
Frightening mate fucking frightening this is what we just found on the new crossrail project
It’s only a 25KV substation brand new install pic.twitter.com/lGiqa8hzJX
— Señor Granty (@GrantyNUFC) September 12, 2018
800 Crossrail workers gone in the past few days they say: