The announcement of Crossrail’s delay and cost overruns have been accompanied by ongoing media stories about similar issues with HS2. Such failures will undermine political and community support for infrastructure projects and something has to be done.
It has to be remembered that both projects built on the hope and optimism generated by the Olympics. Despite all the naysayers, the Olympics showed that the UK could manage and build projects on time and to budget. That impression is at risk of being decimated by the latest news. Optimism is on the decline.
It is particularly damaging because it eats away at the heart of the political support needed for such major projects to go ahead. If the politicians can’t trust the figures or timescales they are given then why should they back a scheme with public money?
There are more critical infrastructure projects coming the way of the Government all the time across sectors, not just in transport. But those other sectors could, quite unfairly, suffer just the same. So just because you are not involved in transport does not mean that the politics for your sector hasn’t changed as well.
That is to say nothing of the scepticism likely to be encountered when projects engage with local communities. Consultation can be challenging enough without communities feeling that they have a real basis on which to distrust what the experts are saying.
So what needs to happen?
Unless projects appreciate the implications of Crossrail and possibly others, then they will not succeed. The implications are potentially significant and will last for years. But if they are reflected and considered then the chances of success will increase.