The chairman of Crossrail, the £15bn project connecting east and west London, is preparing to step down weeks after it emerged that the line’s opening would be delayed well into next year.
Sky News has learnt that Sir Terry Morgan, who has held the role since 2009, is likely to be replaced within months.
Sir Terry, who also chairs the HS2 high-speed rail-link, said last month that he had no intention of quitting the helm of Crossrail Ltd, telling Caroline Pidgeon, chair of the London Assembly Transport Committee: “My determination is to finish the job.”
Sources in Whitehall said on Wednesday night that officials were drawing up a list of potential successors to Sir Terry, although it was unclear whether any had been approached yet.
The details of Sir Terry’s departure have yet to be finalised and it still requires formal approval from Sadiq Khan, the London Mayor, and Chris Grayling, the Transport Secretary, the Whitehall sources added.
Crossrail, which will carry passengers from Paddington to Canary Wharf in 17 minutes, is one of Britain’s biggest rail infrastructure projects for decades.
Transport for London (TfL) has boasted that Crossrail will boost Britain’s economy by an estimated £42bn while adding 10% to central London’s rail capacity.
Due to open in December, TfL has blamed the delay to the central section of the line on the need for testing communication between trains and signalling systems.
Mr Khan said he had not been informed of the Crossrail delay until two days before it was announced.
“I’m extremely frustrated, disappointed and angry at the delay but I’m confident that when completed Crossrail will be a great engineering project and asset for London,” he told the London Assembly last month.
Sir Terry, a former BAE Systems and Land Rover executive, was appointed by Mr Grayling as the new chairman of HS2 – itself the subject of growing political hostility – in July.
He has extensive rail industry experience, having run Tube Lines, the Public Private Partnership responsible for maintaining and upgrading the London Underground’s Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly lines.
News of the delay to Crossrail angered business leaders, who had been assured just months earlier that the project, now renamed the Elizabeth Line, was on time and on budget.
Announcing the revised opening date in August, Simon Wright, Crossrail’s chief executive, said: “The Elizabeth line is one of the most complex and challenging infrastructure projects ever undertaken in the UK and is now in its final stages.
“We have made huge progress with the delivery of this incredible project but we need further time to complete the testing of the new railway.
“We are working around the clock with our supply chain and Transport for London to complete and commission the Elizabeth line.”
The Crossrail delay provided another headache for Mr Grayling, who has faced criticism over his handling a string of privatised rail franchises.
Two weeks ago, he announced a full-scale review of Britain’s railways, to be led by the former British Airways chief executive Keith Williams.
Responding to an enquiry about Sir Terry’s future as Crossrail chairman, a TfL spokeswoman said it did not comment “on unsubstantiated rumours”.
The DfT and Mayor of London’s office also declined to comment, while Sir Terry could not be reached for comment.