Whether you were fully expecting it, or the Crossrail delay took you by surprise, there's no doubt Londoners have been loving talking about what went wrong. So, here's a list of other construction projects currently started or planned in London — all delayed.
The Crossrail delay
The delay everyone's talking about at the moment... Crossrail. In September 2018, the December 2018 opening date was pushed back the best part of a year to autumn 2019 (a delay which we predicted as far back as July, although the length of it still took us by surprise).
Then, the day after the original launch date, it was announced that the autumn 2019 deadline was looking iffy too, with Chief Executive of Crossrail Mark Wild saying that an autumn 2019 opening date "could no longer be committed to at this stage."
The fact that Crossrail was willing to say on record, almost a year in advance, that autumn 2019 is looking unlikely leads us to believe that it definitely won't happen, and we're looking at a 2020 launch — at the earliest — for the Purple Train. Look at all the stuff that's ruined.
All of which leads us on to...
The new Oxford Street Christmas lights
We were expecting to see new Christmas lights over Oxford Street for Christmas 2018 — four shortlisted designs were released back in the spring, with the winner due to be announced shortly afterwards. And then... nothing. Instead, the old lights started going up, so we asked Oxford Street what was going on.
It transpired that the new lights were designed to coincide with Crossrail's launch in December 2018, but as Crossrail wasn't happening in 2018, the old lights were used instead (albeit with a slightly purple hue). So far, so fair, but given the increasing unlikeliness of Crossrail making a 2019 appearance, does that mean the old light's will get another airing next Christmas? Watch this space...
Northern line extension delay
Again the Northern line extension from Kennington to Battersea wasn't one we were expecting to ride imminently — 2020 is the official projected launch date.
If your brain works like ours does, you're probably wondering whether you'll actually be riding the Northern line extension before you're riding Crossrail. But hold your horses — a New Civil Engineer article (helpfully reproduced here) suggests that the line is now due to open in September 2021 rather than December 2020, a nine-month delay. BBC Transport Correspondent Tom Edwards backs this up, although no official confirmation from TfL yet — we're betting on them slipping out a press release quietly over Christmas.
The reason given for the delay, at least in that New Civil Engineer article, is that the opening is being retimed to coincide with the opening of the new Bank station, so that this already-cramped station is able to cope with the extra passengers the extension brings.
Tunnelling is already complete on the extension, so we know that's not causing the issues, but we do wonder whether once again, Crossrail has anything to do with it. Could it be that the construction staff tasked with fitting out the stations and tunnels are now being retained on Crossrail for longer? Because really, with TfL's current financial woes, once the tunnels and stations for the Northern Line extension are ready to go, why wouldn't they want them up and running asap to generate revenue?
White Hart Lane stadium delay
Spurs' new stadium has been a cause of much anguish for Londonist's resident season ticket holder, who's become better acquainted with Wembley than he ever wanted. It was due to open in August 2018, ready for the start of this season, but has gradually been pushed back and pushed back. Contractors missing deadlines has been the official reason given, something we've previously pondered in light of those Crossrail delays — is is the case that there just aren't enough skilled manual workers in London to finish off two massive projects at once?
We're now looking at an early 2019 opening date — although it still won't be ready until after mid-January. Selected fans have already attended 'familiarisation tours' so fingers crossed the launch is imminent.
Battersea Power Station delay
This one's less of interest to the average Londoner, but as it's a highly publicised construction project in an iconic London building, it's worth mentioning nonetheless.
New (pricey) flats, offices and shops are coming to the building itself, but there have been reports that Apple — due to open its new headquarters there — has been looking into temporary office space in case the 2021 deadline is missed. In December 2018, amid a deal which saw shares in the project sold to a new owner, a spokesperson said that the building will still be refurbished by the end of 2020, as planned.
Cycle Superhighway 11 delay
Cycle Superhighways have been popping up all over London in recent years, but one won't be opening as soon as expected — if at all.
Work on Cycle Superhighway 11 — joining Swiss Cottage to the West End — was due to begin in summer 2018, but has yet to happen. Westminster Council opposed the project, saying not enough research had been done into the impact it would have on traffic flow and residents on the route.
It's not the first time Westminster Council has locked horns with TfL/Sadiq Khan — in June 2018, it was responsible for shelving Khan's plans to pedestrianise Oxford Street, leaving us with, quite frankly, a mess.
At time of writing, regarding CS11, TfL says it is "still committed to improving safety for pedestrians and cyclists as soon as possible". Keep an eye on this page for updates.
Silvertown Tunnel delay
However, it looks like it is going ahead, and in December 2018, TfL announced that work would begin in late 2019, which pushes its expected completion date back to late 2024, rather than the originally planned 2023 — a delay of a year before we've seen even a sniff of construction works.
Eastenders set delay
Even fictional London areas aren't sacred from the delays plaguing the city. In December 2018, it was announced that the rebuild of the Eastenders set had gone £27m over budget, and incurred a delay of five years. Five years. People don't even live in these houses, for goodness sake. Suddenly a year or so delay on a state-of-the-art, fully functioning (hopefully) train line doesn't seem so bad.
Here's the story behind the building of the original set.
If you're now shaking your head at the state of 21st century London, we'd like to point out that our city has a history of delays to large infrastructure projects:
- In 1968, the launch of the Victoria line was thrown into question the day before it was due to open, when dampness affected the signalling equipment. As it transpires, it did open in a timely fashion.
- The Jubilee line gets its name because it was originally timed to coincide with the Queen's Silver Jubilee in 1977 (it was initial known as the Fleet line until the name was changed during construction). In the end, it opened two years late in 1979.
- 20 years later, in 1999, the Jubilee line extension opened in stages, after many delays in construction. (a 1997 launch date was in the original plans)
We know, we know, we've probably missed a veritable trainload of tardy construction projects. Put us right in the comments below.