Virus further delays London's new 'Elizabeth' railway

By: AFP      Published: 07:49 PM, 21 Aug, 2020
Virus further delays London's new 'Elizabeth' railway

London's new "Elizabeth" railway connecting the capital's centre with Heathrow airport, is facing additional costs and further delay on fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, operator Crossrail said Friday.

Named after Britain's reigning monarch Elizabeth II, the line will now not begin opening until the first half of 2022, while total construction costs are set to increase by a further £1.1 billion ($1.4 billion, 1.2 billion euros), Crossrail said in a statement.

Originally scheduled to open in 2018, the Elizabeth line is now forecast to cost £18.9 billion, with the additional increase coming amid huge financial losses for Britain's rail sector as workers shun public transport to work from home during the pandemic. "Delivery of the Elizabeth line is now in its complex final stages and is being completed at a time of great uncertainty due to the risk and potential impacts of further COVID outbreaks," said Crossrail chief executive Mark Wild. 

He said that Britain's recent lockdown and workplace social distancing measures put in place since the reopening of the economy had "exacerbated the schedule pressures". Wild added: "We now have a maximum of around 2,000 people on our sites, less than 50 percent of our pre-COVID complement."

Crossrail will serve also towns to the east and west of London.