“I thought it was fantastic by the way, yesterday, to see Her Majesty the Queen open Crossrail. 72,000 jobs that has already delivered”.
During Prime Minister’s Questions on 18 May, the Prime Minister Boris Johnson claimed Crossrail has delivered 72,000 jobs.
Crossrail, also known as the Elizabeth line, is a major new rail line across London and the South East which has been under construction since 2009 and is set to open to the public on 24 May 2022.
The 72,000 claim was immediately questioned by some, with a widely-shared tweet and a story on the MyLondon news website both suggesting Mr Johnson may have confused the number of jobs created by the Crossrail project with the number of passengers the Elizabeth line will be able to carry per hour, which various reports published throughout the construction phase have claimed will be 72,000.
But Mr Johnson’s figure is close to Transport for London’s official figure.
Where did the 72,000 figure come from?
Downing Street confirmed to Full Fact that the Prime Minister was referencing a figure mentioned by Crossrail chief executive Mark Wild, who told the Guardian in March 2022 that 75,000 people had worked on the Crossrail project in total.
While the Prime Minister’s figure was in the same ballpark, it is unclear why he gave a slightly different number.
Transport for London (TfL) confirmed to Full Fact that 75,000 people have worked across the wider supply chain, which includes for example those working on trains and signs as well as directly on construction. The figure also includes some who were previously employed by Transport for London before working on Crossrail.
A different figure for the number of jobs directly supported by the construction of Crossrail is cited on various pages of the Crossrail website, which states: “Over the course of the project, we estimate there to be at least 75,000 opportunities for businesses, generating enough work to support the equivalent of 55,000 full time jobs through the supply chain.”
However that figure appears to be old, with at least one of the pages it appears on last having been updated in 2018. The same figure also appears in a 2021 report on the project from the National Audit Office. It refers to a 2018 document from Crossrail itself, which claimed that during construction, the Crossrail project has supported an estimated 55,000 jobs all around the UK. Crossrail seems to have been using the 55,000 figure since at least 2013.
All these figures refer to the number of people estimated to have worked on Crossrail so far, either directly or as part of the wider supply chain. They don’t account for jobs which may be indirectly created through Crossrail supporting regeneration across the areas it covers. TfL says the Elizabeth line is expected to add an estimated £42bn to the UK economy.