In a damning City Hall report Transport for London’s commissioner, Mike Brown was urged to consider his position over his handling of Crossrail.
Mike Brown was accused by The London assembly transport committee of downplaying the risks attributed to the £17bn scheme in his weekly updates to Mayor Sadiq Khan.
The Guardian revealed that in an independent report, significant risks were identified approximately 12 months prior to the planned opening of Crossrail, however those risks were allegedly never properly acted upon.
The report called for tighter controls on TfL as well as greater transparency. Mike Brown was singled out for criticism in the report, saying: “Given the strong evidence presented in this report, we recommend that the Commissioner reflects on whether he is fit to fulfil his role in TfL,”
Mike Brown has been commissioner at TfL since September 2015.
Liberal Democrat London assembly member Caroline Pidgeon, who chairs the transport committee, said: “It is a complete tragedy that one of the most highly anticipated engineering projects the world has ever seen has found itself in a mess of overspending, mismanagement and an embarrassingly long delay.
“Crossrail was supposed to be the beacon of modern, 21st-century engineering but its name is now tarnished with shame in the eyes of the London taxpayer who will have to foot the bill until its completion.
The inability of senior figures in the project to push past their obsession with a December 2018 launch date is one of the main reasons why their dream did not become a reality.”
Pidgeon added: “It is shameful that nobody at a senior level is willing to take responsibility for the failure of the project thus far.””
Crossrail chief executive Mark Wild was brought in to head the project after delays were revealed in the middle of last year.
The repprt found that Crossrail’s executive did not have the skills required to assess and understand risk as the project moved from construction to operations.
The report also stated that:emails between Crossrail Limited and TfL suggests that communications to the mayor were being managed by the TfL commissioner, Mike Brown.
The report also identifies that there may be some doubt on the mayor’s claim that he was not made aware of the Crossrail delay until two days before an announcement was made on 31 August last year.
The report stated that documents made available to City Hall suggested that sponsors started collaborating on a strategy to mitigate for the delay in mid August, therefore along with the financial issues pertaining to situation, it's difficult to understand how the mayor claims he was not aware of the risk of delay.
Mayor Khan stated lthat both he and Mike Brown had been fully transparent about what was known about the delays to Crossrail, including around the key information that the previous Crossrail leadership gave to TfL and DfT. The Mayor also stated that as joint sponsors, TfL and the Department for Transport should have been told much more, far sooner by the previous Crossrail leadership.”
The report said that Jacobs Engineering Ltd reported significant risks to the December 2018 opening as early as January 2018” but TfL and DfT did not sufficiently act upon these reports of risks.
A TfL spokesperson fired back by stating that the responsibility for the delay to the Crossrail project fell at the door of the former management of Crossrail Ltd. And it was incorrect to suggest the transport commissioner, or anyone at TfL, kept any information from the mayor.
The spokesmam went on to highlight that the commissioner works to ensure that the mayor is kept informed of everything going on in transport in London and to ensure the information he receives is clear, consistent and accurate.
A Mayor of London spokesman said that the Mayor has every confidence in Mike Brown.
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