As Chair of the London Assembly Transport Committee, Caroline Pidgeon has written to the Mayor expressing great disappointment at the lack of transparency around the delay in opening Crossrail, with board meetings held in secret instead of being forthcoming with the public.
We accept the assurances you have personally given to the Assembly that you did not know the specific details of the delay until two days before the announcement.
However, given the evidence we have received we feel it is highly likely that you were informed on or soon after 19 July that there was very likely to be a delay. It may have been justified to wait for clearer information before a public announcement.
However, it is arguable that maintaining that you were completely uninformed is misleading. If in fact you were uninformed, we can only assume this was to allow you - and Ministers - a degree of ‘plausible deniability’ about the inevitable delay in the launch date.
This is completely inappropriate and damages the reputations of all involved.
We can never again have an absurd situation where the Board publicly discusses a Crossrail paper suggesting the project is on track, as it did on 25 July 2018, before turning off the cameras for the ‘real’ discussion where bad news is shared. We appreciate there was a long public discussion on the delay at the TfL Board on 19 September, with challenging questions from Board members - this was encouraging, and should have been happening all along.
I would like to reiterate that the whole Committee looks forward to the opening of the Elizabeth line and is confident this will represent a fantastic new addition to London’s transport network. But the events leading to this delay cannot be allowed to pass without detailed scrutiny, and outstanding questions must be answered.