Crossrail Still On Track?

22nd June 2020 posted in Property News

When it comes to Crossrail, it seems as though the project has been running for an eternity. The initial announcements led to a significant spike in interest, and prices, in housing markets close to new stations and the line.

In a study undertaken by Hamptons International, house prices within a mile radius of the 40 stations increased by 66% since 2009. This is 15% bigger than the London average for the same time. Greenwich is one of the areas that has experienced a spike due to the line connecting across the capital and beyond.

Crossrail has impacted many parts of the capital

Of course, there have been significant delays to work, which was initially due to open in December 2018. The official line is that the Paddington to Abbey Wood portion of the Elizabeth Line will open in the summer of 2021, but some Politicians have cast doubt on these claims. There have also been independent reports which warn of the impact of COVID-19 on the line, and when it will be ready for use.

There is also debate as to how the line will operate in post-lockdown times. There is a need for more capacity on London transport, and of course, if social distancing measures are introduced to public transportation, this means more services need to run. However, there might be a drop in people travelling to and from the office every day, which may lessen the need for commuter space.

Tony Meggs, the chairman of Transport for London (TfL), said; “Now we’re not just talking about getting more and more people into the centre of London for work. We’re actually talking about people’s health and safety as well – trying to create more space for Londoners under these constrained conditions.”

The project boss also spoke on the subject, saying they were; “completely committed to doing everything we can, notwithstanding the real impact of Covid-19, to meet or beat the schedule that we outlined.”

On March 24th, construction work on Crossrail sites came to a halt following Government orders. The coronavirus lockdown led to only 200 of the 4,500-construction staff being allowed to remain on site. However, there is now 25% of the workplace in place, and with restrictions being eased, it is likely that more will return in the near future.

Can time be made up safely without cutting corners?

Mr Meggs has also said that 2,000 employees have been working remotely during this time, offering support to their colleagues. He also claims new thinking and innovative measures will help the project make up for lost time, but Mr Meggs didn’t speculate on what these measures are.

Liberal Democrat Caroline Pidgeon believes the opening date was an overly-ambitious one, even before the COVID-19 pandemic impacted every day life. She said; “I recognise that new working practices are now being adopted and I hope I am proved wrong when I say this – but based on previous broken promises about completion dates and all the evidence from the independent consultants, I remain highly sceptical that Crossrail will be fully running by the Summer of 2021.”

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