Industry leaders have said the completion of the troubled Crossrail project was vital to demonstrate that London will soon be “open for business”.
Transport for London commissioner Andy Byford has reportedly called the Government for an extra £80 million in urgent funding, warning the project risks being “mothballed” if the financial support is not provided.
Crossrail - Europe’s biggest construction project stretching from Berkshire to Essex via central London - was originally set to open in December 2018, but opening has now been pushed back until at least the first half of 2022.
The original £15 billion budget is nearing £20 billion.
Matthew Jaffa, senior external affairs manager for London at the Federation of Small Businesses, said on Monday: “Small businesses that have made the investment to operate close to the the operating line are left bewildered by this bad soap opera. The completion of this vital piece of infrastructure is a must to demonstrate that London is getting prepared to be open for business.”
The concerns were echoed by Helen Brocklebank, CEO of British luxury trade body, Walpole, which represents more than 270 UK brands from Burberry to Jimmy Choo.
She said it was vital for central London retail that Crossrail is completed.
Ms Brocklebank said: “Crossrail has always been seen as bringing a huge boost to Bond Street and West End retail and we need it more than ever if central London is to bounce back from the pandemic.”
The Government has said it remains committed to the project.
Mark Wild, Crossrail chief executive, told the Daily Telegrpah he was “very confident” that a revised opening “window” of between January and June 2022 would be achieved.
However, it is understood that this is reliant on the extra funding from Government being agreed.
A TfL spokesperson said: “TfL, the GLA and Government all continue to have discussions around the additional funding needed to complete the Crossrail project.”