It can’t have escaped your notice that Crossrail is now seriously behind schedule and over budget. This is hugely disappointing, but not wholly unexpected. But what does the delay mean for London businesses?
The Crossrail project – earlier this year renamed the Elizabeth Line – is to run from Reading in the west to Shenfield in the east.
The new railway will firstly take the pressure off the Tube, in particular the Central Line. More fundamentally, it will also make it possible to cross London in a fraction of the current time. With stations spread in a line over Central London east to west, a trip from all the way from Reading to Canary Wharf in the east will take a mere 68 minutes! Ealing Broadway to Bond Street in the West End: 11 minutes.
The Queen was supposed to be opening the Elizabeth Line this month (December 2018). However, earlier in the year Crossrail postponed the completion date until late 2019. And then recently they removed the estimated completion date completely – which is never a good sign! A major new rail system encompasses a whole range of complex, overlapping sub-projects. This includes train construction and delivery, station building, tunnels and track, hardware and software. As I understand it, they are all running very late and over budget. Much has been written about the actual detail of these different sub-projects. However, they all boil down to a massive delay to Crossrail’s opening. The project requires an extra £2bn to plug the gap, compounded by lost ticket revenue from now until the opening. Whenever that may be…
Crossrail requires an extra £2bn to plug the gap, compounded by lost ticket revenue from now until the opening. Whenever that may be…
What is the business impact?
We are aware of many companies basing their office location strategies on the opening of the Elizabeth Line. We blogged about the new opportunities Crossrail would create way back in 2015. Frankly our view hasn’t changed: Crossrail will expand choice and reduce costs for many businesses – as well as boosting the local economy of less fashionable, peripheral areas. Your business could save a fortune by locating itself well away from the high cost central areas. Critically Crossrail means you still be able to meet clients in Central London just as quickly as – if not even quicker than – being located much closer.
Crossrail: imagine basing your office in Ealing but being able to travel to meet a client in Canary Wharf within 25 minutes.
For example: imagine basing your office in Ealing but being able to travel to meet a client in Canary Wharf within 25 minutes. You’ll save a great deal of money without losing the benefits of proximity. Office rents ( and business rates payable of course ) are so much cheaper than say Holborn or Covent Garden. And if you and some of your co-workers happen to live in or near Ealing, well, that’s a short commute!
Sadly all of these clever office plans will have to wait – as will we all. Infrastructure has to be completed, the stations fitted out, and all the hardware and software completed and tested before the new Crossrail service is up and running.
When will this be? Who knows…