Crossrail: Another bailout looming for London's £18bn railway?

Crossrail carriages at a depot in West London

London's troubled Crossrail project might need a further bailout before passengers can finally use it, a government minister today hinted.The delayed £18bn railway is due to open next Summer but construction work stalled at the start of the coronavirus outbreak.Transport minister Chris Heaton-Harris issued a written statement suggesting Crossrail (CRL) bosses might need more time and more cash to complete the project.

Crossrail route from Reading to Shenfield Credit: PA

Construction work paused for two months earlier this year after mayor Sadiq Khan ordered workers to stay away from sites controlled by Transport for London. The lockdown also halted crucial trials of trains and signals.Train testing will be suspended again next month during a five week 'blockade' to allow construction work on stations and tunnels to catch up.The railway, known as the Elizabeth Line, will need up to a year of intenstive testing known as Trial Running and Trial Operations before it can open. Trial Running is due start in Autumn 2020.

The Elizabeth Line was due to be opened by the Queen in December 2018. A revised timetable is likely to be discussed at Crossrail board meeting on Thursday.