UK: Crossrail Ltd announced on March 24 that work on the cross-London rail project would be suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic. The organisation said it was working with its Tier 1 contractors to safely close down sites at the earliest opportunity.
The announcement came amid widespread concern about the number of people using public transport to get to work at a time when all travel by anyone other than key workers is being strongly discouraged in an effort to limit the spread of the virus.
‘The government and the Mayor have given clear instructions to stay safe and to stop travelling in all cases other than critical workers making absolutely essential journeys’, said London Transport Commissioner Mike Brown. ‘In line with this, TfL and Crossrail will be bringing all project sites to a temporary safe stop unless they need to continue for operational safety reasons. This means that work on all such projects will be temporarily suspended as soon as it is safe to do so. Essential maintenance of the transport network will of course continue.’
The previous week Crossrail Ltd had asked everyone who could work from home to do so, and put in place measures to limit movement across the project. It is liaising with its contractors and their supply chains to ensure that the programme ‘continues to be delivered safely.’ Brown said that ‘as we work through these issues with our supply chain, consideration will be given to the impact on workers, particularly those who are on low incomes.’
Crossrail Ltd CEO Mark Wild said it was ‘too early to tell’ what the impact of Covid-19 on the project would be. Much of the central section of the line is now substantially complete, other than some station works. The main focus is now on completing signalling and train control software development and safety assurance certification to enable intensive testing under operational conditions ahead of the planned opening next year.