Five west London Crossrail stations will not be ready as planned, causing a strong reaction from Ealing Council where most of them are situated.
Improvement works on the station buildings at Acton, Ealing Broadway (pictured), West Ealing, Southall, and Hayes and Harlington will all be completed later than expected. Works had been scheduled to be complete by the end of January 2018. The BBC reports their completion has been put back to Summer 2019. To date, the only station to see any work is Ealing Broadway which has had some internal remodelling.
While this is in time for the scheduled full opening of Crossrail services, it is after Crossrail trains begin operating from Heathrow to Paddington, and will put back works on the public space around the stations.
Councillor Julian Bell, leader of Ealing Council, hit out at the news.Councillor Bell said: “All of these stations are now seriously delayed and none will be complete when the first trains start running in May 2018. New station buildings were considered necessary because of the increase in passenger numbers that Crossrail will bring and I have serious concerns about public safety when the Elizabeth Line service starts.
“Despite demanding a new work programme from Crossrail and Network Rail, their official position remains a mystery to us as neither will confirm what the cause of the delay is, what is being done to rectify the issues and when work will start. In the meantime, we are left with old station buildings that will not be able to cope with the increased footfall.
“As a council, we are also waiting to spend the Crossrail Complementary Funding we have been granted by TfL. This money has been allocated to ensure that the gateway to our Crossrail stations is safe and welcoming. We are limited in the work we can do before work on the stations is finished, but have been told by TfL that the deadline for spending the money runs out at the end of the 2018/19 financial year regardless and cannot be extended. I am furious that a delay that is none of our making is going to mean that we could miss out on vital funding.
“In addition, we have also learned that the three stations due to have new buildings will not have the old station building removed as part of the process. It’s likely that they will be simply boarded up by Network Rail and left to fall into disrepair. These old buildings are going to require a significant level of maintenance to stop them for becoming a liability to the public walking past and to the railway line, but Network Rail is refusing to take any responsibility and contribute towards the cost of maintaining or removing them.
“We are now raising these issues at the highest level within both Crossrail and Network Rail. My residents deserve some answers and we will be doing everything we can to communicate our very real concern about the effects of these continuous delays and to get some clarity on exactly what is going on with this very shabby state of affairs.”
Ben Wheeldon, Programme Director for Crossrail, countered, saying: “The timeline for the introduction of the Elizabeth line is on track.
“Network Rail has already delivered extensive infrastructure upgrades to enable the introduction of the Elizabeth line, and by December this year we will have completed all of the rail infrastructure in Ealing needed to support the testing of Elizabeth line trains in advance of their introduction next May.
“The new station building and accessible pedestrian footbridge will be completed by December 2019, which is when the Crossrail project completes and the full Elizabeth line services are introduced, linking Ealing with central London.
“As a result of Crossrail construction work for the Elizabeth line, passengers and residents in Ealing are already seeing real improvements to their railway and train service. The electrification of the line to Maidenhead and a new lengthened bay platform at Hayes & Harlington has facilitated the introduction of GWR electric services to Paddington, providing over 1,000 seats into Paddington at the busiest times.”