It feels like everything in the UK is a mess right now, but even so, Crossrail gets the Omnishambles medal.
After major changes in management and a whopping £1.4 billion bailout in December, Elizabeth Line bosses announced at the beginning of February that there's no chance the line will open as planned this year.
Now Sadiq Khan has chimed in to say we won't even get an opening date for the line this year, but that we might get an estimate by the end of this quarter.
At this point, the Elizabeth Line has cost more than £17,600,000,000. The next stage of the line was supposed to open in December 2018, then it got pushed to "Autumn 2019," and now it's just "we have no idea."
According to City AM, Sadiq Khan has said chief exec Mark Wild can't give any dates "with confidence" but that we might have a guess by the end of the current financial quarter, which finishes in April.
Crossrail Chairman Nick Raynsford recently made a speech taking the same position:
"There can be no hiding from the fact that mistakes have been made and trust has been lost. We need to earn that trust back.
We won’t do that by making more promises we cannot keep … the board, together with Mark and the whole leadership team, have made the decision not to commit to a new timetable until we have the absolute confidence it can and will be delivered. We hope to be in a position to give more information on this by early April."
While it's laudable that the team behind the Elizabeth Line is being honest in saying they have no clue, they can't expect a positive response to the news.
Caroline Pidgeon, chair of the transport committee for the London Assembly, comments:
"Nearly six months have passed since the public were told that the opening of Crossrail would be delayed, yet incredibly we still have no revised opening date for the project.
I can understand Crossrail’s reluctance to [...] make promises they cannot keep, but what we cannot escape from is that as every day passes the cost of Crossrail escalates even further and TfL is deprived of a new fare income stream which it so desperately needed.
And as the delays in Crossrail escalate so do the unanswered questions as to why the line was held for so long that Crossrail would open on time in December 2018."
We can tell you why: embarrassment. It's not great to have to announce delays to a big, expensive project, but it's even worse to say "not only are we going to miss our deadline, we don't even have a new one for you because this is all taking ages and costing loads and frankly we wish we'd never started."
Everyone who's ever started organising a drawer and ended up with everything in their house on the floor and several items of furniture in new locations can relate, but then we're not being paid £17bn for the pleasure.