IMG 1376fi 800x425 - Crossrail - the failed prophecies

This weekend should have seen a big transport day for London to celebrate. A new rail line in operation from Paddington to Abbey Wood. And any prospect of this new railway opening will not happen for perhaps a year maybe more. 

The great foretold was finally revealed to London on 31st August 2018. But it had been known for a good while before, with many people trying to work out exactly what our Mayor knew, was it the 19th July when he had the wondrous secret revealed to him? He denies it somewhat. And others saying the writing was on the wall back in the early part of 2018 – in other words the proof was in the pudding! No matter whoever it was that had known of the utterly dreadful information contained within this covenant, all these quite horrid, bloodied, scary skeletons finally jumped out from that fabled chest of secrets to give Londoners an almighty fright!

The capital’s political and and business leaders are of course mighty disappointed whilst the Gods have vented their angry wrath at this failed prophecy. Crossrail’s at least a year late. A prophecy that’s tainted, just bloody terrible to say the least. In other words a nightmare that never ends!

And one may as well ask, why are we waiting for Crossrail Two? A second helping of the calamity that will no doubt befall London…. Why cant we snap out of our predilection for new railways and totally rethink what it means to travel, and the sort of transport modes we should be using? Let’s just get shot of the old ways! Why not just bring in those Star Trek transporters? ‘Beam me up its one from Tottenham Court Road to Westferry Circus.’ Finally the whole world (not forgetting space itself) is everyone’s oyster! From here to there in an instant – and without any of the outrageously contrived faff that’s Crossrail!

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The headlines on 31 August 2018 – Crossrail delayed by a year!

Sadly we live in a world of what we deem to be modernity yet is anything but! Crossrail, HS2, new roads, dedicated cycle routes, planes, helicopters, robot cars, analogue code computers and the rest of it mimicking a hyper version of 19th Century technology in an extremely vain quest to present ourselves as a 21st Century society….

Okay, let’s move on a bit and get to grips with the really serious subject matter! This is about how Crossrail was very late and the warning signs that were there all the time. ‘On bugdet and on time?’ That was a mantra which one can assume was designed to fool everyone from the Government to the media to the unfortunate commuter. They promised and promised it would open in December 2018… and did they deliver? Nope. They did not.

I originally called this post Crossrail – The boring, tedious, evidence. That’s because it consists of over thirty photographs recording changes at Bond Street Crossrail station – and you will see there’s practically very little change over a whole year. The visible changes at Bond Street Crossrail station amount to sheer boredom. Thus each picture is to all purposes and intents pretty much the same as those take previously! Its more of an inquest than anything else!

Its purpose is to show things were pretty obvious Crossrail was NEVER going to open in December 2018. I have also included conversations, links, other stuff to show Crossrail’s ‘prophecies’ were nothing more than a failed quest to pull the wool over Londoners’ eyes and make out the new railway really was opening in December 2018. 

You know, I hope I never have to write another Crossrail post for a long time. Seriously, I’m sick to the back teeth of this new railway and the ways and means by which modern transport managers peddle a morass of half-truths and non-truths.

THE OVERTURE

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As the crux of this post is therefore all abut December 2018, let’s look a bit closer at the first image top of this page again – its from Davies Street where it promises us a new line from December 2018… and that in terms of heavy rail, Class 345’s, zorro movements, PES’s, and push button technology enabling trains to shuffle about a bit from one platform to the other at Paddington for the return to Abbey Wood. (All the time while the driver has a quick pee in a bottle!) Now we know why they are NOT providing toilets on the new trains…

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I said the new line was late yonks ago. I pointed to things like Bond Street. Often thought to myself gawd, is anyone ever going to get on with that station? But got criticised for not understanding how buildings are constructed….

Anyway at the rate this is going it looks like it’ll be 2025 before the line opens! Did anyone really think the Let’s-Take-A-Piss Line was totally honest in its intentions? On budget and on time? Just look at the state of its stations!

Its a nightmare more like! But the evidence I am about to show is sort of proof enough no-one could be arsed to get this damn line open by December 2018! These photographs of Bond Street station’s progress were taken over three years and the difference over the last year or so of that period is, well, there’s not much to see!

In fact Crossrail insiders claim Bond Street “stuck out like a ‘sore thumb’ when compared with the other stations and had been a ‘basket case’ for the last 18 months.” Source.

Personally for me, Bond Street was the litmus paper that showed London whether the new railway was going to be on time. At least we know the Queen’s going to have fun declaring her namesake line fit for service – when it does open!

This is simply a lengthy pictorial of the progress at Bond Street thus there’s little else to say apart from giving the dates the photographs were taken and other comments that may be necessary.

We begin with this picture, shown at right, of this wondrous concrete tower on a March day in 2016, this tower being a super duper facility destined to launch London’s new fangled railway into the 21st century.

THE EVIDENCE

Let’s go back a little bit to early January 2016 when they were just starting the serious work. There was nothing to begin with they had pulled down the previous buildings sunk a hole, dug some tunnels, and then this enormous ventilation shaft.

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31.01.16 One of my pics of the construction work in Davies Street for the new Crossrail station.

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31.01.16 Another view of the Davies Street site with that great ventilation tower visible.

In those great far-off days the prophecy ruled the London clay. Crossrail claimed much about its fantastic progress. In August 2016, an exact full two years before the prophecy showed itself as a miserable premise of a railway that had no idea what ‘on time’ meant, Crossrail made much of the fact 75% of the project had been delivered! Yes! Seventy-Five per-cent! To make capital out of that great milestone, the Mayor of London was invited to ride on a train from Custom House to Canary Wharf and see for himself the excellent progress being made on the, erm, thing now touted as the Queen’s very own line

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Meanwhile they had built a fantastic new station for Bond St tube station! Open November 2017.

I have always said if Crossrail had been behind with its stations there were alternatives such as Bond Street and Tottenham Court Road tube stations which had alternative entrances that could be used. Most others thought this too. In the event even this back up strategy is not going to be used at all and it seems a lot of money has been expended for nothing – essentially the overall project has been pulling the good bits down. Canary Wharf station for example was finished early giving Crossrail more space to focus on the other stations and the line’s infrastructure. The Canary Wharf Group are  understandably quite angry their goodwill funding a major part of the project has been much trounced by massive failures in construction and testing.

One wonders how could Crossrail really have been so serious about getting the line finished on time… Everytime I looked at Bond Street (whether it was Davies Street or Hanover Square) I was actually so disappointed at what was clearly a lack of definitive progress. Despite the great promises being made in reality it seems Crossrail just totally fluffed it.

As I find, it appears both Crossrail and London Underground Limited (which has a vested interest in the new railway) both gave a veiled warning in January 2018 that Crossrail would not open on time. This fear was expressed by LUL’s very own Mark Wild – who is now CEO of Crossrail!

Anyway, onwards with more of my pictures of progress at Bond Street….

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10.12.17 Round the corner in Davies Street the shape of the other ‘underground’ station was becoming visible.

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03.01.18 The Crossrail station takes shape.

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03.01.2018 General view of London’s new ‘space age station.’

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02.03.18 A snowy Davies Street construction site

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04.03.18 Most of the scaffolding’s gone – the general shape of the frontage becomes apparent.

At this point it must be stressed I was fully aware much of the work was taking place below ground. Trackwork, new platforms, escalators, Platform Edge Screens, etc. But one would have thought far more progress would be seen on the surface if they were to get this station seriously ready for December 2018.

In fact they were declaring how well Bond Street station was in terms of completion and readiness for handing over to TfL. See this Crossrail page for example. They even claimed the Western Ticket Hall was progressing very well! Apparently the truth itself was very different and Crossrail itself secretly knew otherwise…. Other sources cited the company who indeed said they were making efforts to ensure the project was on time despite ‘cost pressures and testing issues.’

I rarely saw any construction staff, they were probably all below ground playing Blackjack or whatever! Even as I write the other bit in Hanover Square’s still nowhere near any sort of completion for such a deadline…

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08.03.18 The station buildings are now quite visible.

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23.03.18 Close up of the station entrance lobby.

This time of the year, March Crossrail was saying ‘Yes! We are open for business in December 2018!’ It wasn’t as we now know too well.

On August 31st 2018 it was finally admitted publicly the whole bloody lot was screwed. Dreadfully behind time, no December 2018 opening, “sorry Ma’am we just cant get the line ready before your Sandringham xmas getaway…”

Crossrail’s bosses grovelled and said it would open in the autumn of 2019, but again it seems they really have no idea. It seems to me Crossrail is on some sort of unspecified time scale with a budget that’s becoming increasingly unspecified too!

If they fail in the next year or so then 2020 is possible, its an opening date which has been touted a few times. However some think its going to be further into the future and in this respect Canary Wharf (who put up money to help the new line along) has put its foot down and are saying if the line does not open by 2021 then TfL owes compensation of at least £15 million to the Canary Wharf Group. See City AM.

UPDATE: Crossrail to open in 2020, £2 billion more to complete. Guardian.

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08.12.18 Canary Wharf’s Crossrail station just after midnight at the start of the big weekend that was not to be…

 The kind people hereabouts (The Canary Wharf Group) poured millions into the station to help Crossrail achieve its objectives. Now their station stands mostly unused, except for special events. The shopping mall above the Crossrail platforms themselves are used on occasion, for art exhibitions, shows, and perhaps most of all, the annual Canary Wharf Winter Lights festival. Its a shame a station built so far in advance of the rest of the line and which has been ready to accept its first passengers for ages, is now relegated to nothing more than a white elephant.

Anyway the photo quest continues, highlighting the sheer boredom that is the new station at Bond Street – as its almost non-progress continues through 2018…

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07.05.18 Despite Crossrail’s declaration of progress two months earlier slippage in the project is quite evident.

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07.05.18 I managed to get a close up view of the actual ticket hall area…. hmmmm not much going on it seems!

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07.05.18 A crop of the above image…. Evidently Crossrail’s not fit for a brewery piss up!

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21.05.18 Close up of the buildings.

INTERMISSION

By about this time I should think the writing was on the wall. But they fooled everyone by having open days during this period and saying something such as ‘you like our fantastic new stations? Great! Come ride with us when we open in six months time.’

I have previously given a link to a video from June 2018 that quite easily shows Crossrail wasn’t going to get its stations ready for December 2018. Few have bothered to look at it I suppose other people’s vids are far more jovial but at least this person didn’t gloss over sites such as Farringdon.

Perhaps the biggest controversy of all has been whether the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, knew of Crossrail’s postponement earlier. Its a question that’s been buzzing the media, social media, even transport forums, as everyone tries to work out exactly what he actually knew…

Apparently he knew the facts only on the 29th August 2018. Others such as the London Assembly Transport Panel have been pointing to documents and claiming the Mayor fully knew of Crossrail’s delays on the 19th July.

In recent days Sir Terry Morgan, the now dearly departed (well not quite, he’s still alive last time I checked) boss of both Crossrail and HS2, has insisted the Mayor first knew of the delays in July yet the Mayor consistently denies this. However the man who could have been Britain’s Hot Shot Two reported he actually told the Mayor himself on that day in July – whether it was the 19th, the 25th or indeed the 26th July as the following transcripts reveal…..

“I advised the Mayor of 26th July that there was no feasible way of completing the project in 2018. His first reaction was ‘go and find a solution’. I would have done the same if I was in the Mayor’s position, but we’d gone through that. We’d already gone through a number of options, but it was just not feasible because we couldn’t guarantee a safe system.

Sir Terry Morgan insisted the Mayor had suggested “Can we throw money at it?’ And the answer was ‘We thought we had’. I tried once more with the key suppliers to see if there was anything we can do, but nothing came of it. What happened at the meeting in July was that, with the Chief Executive, we told him it was no longer possible to open. But I am very clear that I told the Mayor on 26th July that it was no longer feasible. What I did do on 29th August, which is the date the Mayor frequently refers to, is I gave him the detail and we talked about the cost of being late.”

The interesting thing is Sir Terry Morgan himself seems rather confused about exactly when the Mayor was told. Despite many reports giving this as the 19th July Morgan himself claims it was the 25th July as this transcript from the London Assembly on 6th September shows, as well as the 26th that he gave to the LBC. It is only after some time and some skepticism among Assembly members that Crossrail comes up with the correct date. The conversation is as follows:

Keith Prince AM: I am after the date of the Board that you attended for Crossrail, please.
Simon Wright (Chief Executive Officer, Crossrail Ltd): We would have to check it. I do not keep all those dates in my head, I am afraid.
Keith Prince AM: But it was before the 25th?
Tony Arbour AM (Chairman): Is that not what you said, Mr Brown?
Mike Brown MVO (Commissioner, Transport for London): Yes, I believe it was. I believe it was before the 25th but I am sure we will find the date in a second for you.
Keith Prince AM: Just so we can continue then while Simon does what he is doing…
Sir Terry Morgan CBE (Chairman, Crossrail Ltd): Sorry, I have the date now.
Keith Prince AM: Have you?
Sir Terry Morgan CBE (Chairman, Crossrail Ltd): The Board meeting was on 19 July [2018]. (Source.)


UPDATE: Mayor knew of delay in July 2018.

Anyway on with some more of those pics…

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22.05.18 A general view and not a terrible lot of progress in two and half months!

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19.06.18 Close up of the interior – no change. Some visible progress at last on the north side of the buildings…

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19.06.18 Some progress on the north side of the ticket hall – new windows being installed. Also preparation for tiling began. 

When I took the above pictures, a temporary opening in the fencing to allow deliveries of the new windows was made and steel barriers were instead used. These were set much further back than the actual fencing line itself. Thus people walking the temporary signed route, alongside the site where Weighhouse Street should be, could almost peer right into the station itself.

This arrangement didn’t last long probably a month and a half – after which the bit of Weighhouse Street along the side of the Crossrail site was instead closed off – as shown in the next picture.

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21.07.18 By this time the side access had been shut off. Obviously to stop those like me trying to see how progress was!

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21.07.18 Another look at the frontage, and further great progress can indeed be seen!

At about this time the summer’s lengthy heatwave began and it affected me quite greatly in terms of health thus I ventured out only when I absolutely had to. Thus sightings of any progress at Bond Street throughout August 2018 was missed off. I did however manage a trip to pictures of the line’s other station at Woolwich as well as document progress on the nearby ferry.

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13.09.18 Chasing up Davies Street once again. A little more progress since July.

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24.10.18 Some amount of tiling can be seen and also the lintel for the station sign.

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24.10.18 View of the frontage itself on the same evening 24 October. Not really an awful lot of progress! Remember they said in March it was well towards completion…

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By this time a few Crossrail sites like Bond St had the ‘From December 2018’ covered over. They didn’t bother at Farringdon, Paddington or Woolwich however!

Obviously they couldn’t get rid of the truth! In their attempts to remove those very words ‘From December 2018’ it does indeed show a somewhat contrived approach being employed. Something that gave the game away and Crossrail’s bosses had overlooked this lol!

That is of course this still extant information board at the Bond Street Crossrail site that should have been removed! ‘Get rid of the truth quick – or we shall be rumbled!’ The information board gives a detailed run down of Crossrail’s plans and it does of course say the line would open in 2018!

There is something however that I had not noticed before. Look closely at the following picture showing this information board and the scheduling given for the construction through to the opening of the line…

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It is a clear exposition of just how behind time Crossrail was. No-one had to inform the Mayor it was late, also he didnt have to tell London the much esteemed new underground railway was a grave disappointment to the capital.

The writing had been on the wall at  Bond Street for yonks! Yes, the essentially foretold admission that the new railway was not on time.

In terms of the tunnelling machines at least they are right. ‘Phyllis’ reached Farringdon in October 2013. Apart from that one achieved date, Crossrail’s timetabling for construction and opening of the line is so different from what has actually happened.

And so the information continues…. 2015: Installing station lifts and escalators. Installing tracks and signals. 2016: Station completed. 

Wait! Station completed in 2016? Blimey! Its now the autumn of 2018 and the station is clearly nowhere near complete. According to this information the station at Bond Street is two years late in terms of construction! TWO WHOLE FRIGGING YEARS!

We have often been told ‘testing and commissioning’ would begin in the summer of 2018 blah blah… On this information board it actually tells us that would begin in 2017.

I think Crossrail’s been pulling the wool over London’s eyes for longer than has been thought. Yes I do know they moved the goalposts a bit in order to save on construction costs by moving the previous projected opening dates to 2018. 

But as they said on the X-Files, the truth is out there. Someone should have sent Mulder and Scully to investigate the claims London’s fantastic ‘space-age’ railway was making…

I’m no X-Files agent, but if you ask me, it was reasonably evident quite outrageous claims were being made…

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29.11.18 The main station entrance. Not really much change apart from the slats above the lintel. Tiling seems to have stopped.

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29.11.18 Oooh! Crossrail sends out a worker to check a guy who keeps taking pics of the construction site lol! Actually I think he’d been to Pret for a bite 🙂

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29.11.18 Same as ever inside the building itself. No change for a railway very urgently being built for the capital!

EPILOGUE

Here are some pictures of the station site in the early hours of the very weekend (8/9 December 2018) the very moments Crossrail should have been opening its doors to the public. Observe the fantastic progress being made….

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08.12.18 Davies Street on the very weekend that was to be London’s big transport celebration… Plus ca change!

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The main frontage – it should have opened this weekend! When that will actually happen no-one knows.

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Within the last couple of days someone in Crossrail has realised the contents of the information board should not be displaying what it has been saying, thus at this very late stage they’ve covered it with plain white plastic decal to ensure it cannot be read anymore… luckily I have pictures of it!

Now you know Crossrail is massively over time and way off budget! No-one in Crossrail seems to have a clue what they’re up to whilst their Bond Street site is without doubt a complete pig’s ear of a job….

In retrospect it seems Crossrail’s so desperately short of money. They have been out and about with the begging bowl a few times this year so far. As one who is totally used to being kept poor by the state too… it follows that I fully understand the new railway’s predicament and am very kindly doing a fundraiser for the Queen’s fantastic new train set. I have been hard at work to ensure the new line gets a few more pennies in its coffers. This introductory video explains it all….

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2 Comments

  1. Hello Roger,

    How are you? It is Kathleen G.

    I wish you a very happy Christmas.

    Kathleen

    1. Author

      Hi Kathleen

      Hope you are well.

      Happy xmas to you too đŸ™‚

      Rog

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