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Our Plan to Complete the Elizabeth Line

A new plan to complete the outstanding works and bring the Elizabeth line into passenger service at the earliest possible date has been developed by the new Crossrail leadership team.

A key focus during 2019 has been finalising the stations, tunnels, portals and shafts. Physical works are nearing completion at many stations as well as within the tunnel section. Our key challenge remains the volume of handover assurance and documentation required to bring these assets into passenger operation.

By the end of the year, Custom House, Farringdon and Tottenham Court Road stations will be complete and the project is on track to finish all fit-out activities in the tunnels in January. The central section will be substantially complete by the end of the first quarter in 2020, except for Bond Street and Whitechapel stations where work will continue.

During 2020 we will undertake testing of the completed railway including an extensive period of Trial Running to build absolute confidence in the safety and reliability of the whole system before opening to the public.

The Elizabeth line will open as soon as practically possible in 2021. In early 2020 we will provide Londoners with further certainty about when the Elizabeth line will open.


The Four Major Tasks (Nov 2019)

There are four major tasks that must be completed to bring the Elizabeth line into passenger service.

1. Tunnel Systems – lnstall and connect

We need to finish fit-out and installation of equipment in the tunnels before handing over the assets required for the Trial Running phase.

2. Train and Signalling – Build and integrate software

We need to build and test the software to integrate the train operating system on the new class 345 trains, and this needs to reach a sufficient level of reliability for the Trial Running phase.

3. Stations Systems – Install and connect

We also need to install and test vital station systems that will carry information to and from the route control centre in Romford.

4. Fully test the completed railway

When the above three major tasks are completed, it will allow the Trial Running phase to commence and the operational railway to be fully tested.


The Elizabeth line has a number of a critical railway systems ranging from radio communications and power to tunnel ventilation and signalling.

The train and signalling software are tested both off site and in the tunnel environment. A key purpose of testing is to identify and fix any software bugs in the train control system and to make sure everything works as planned. Software version PD+10, which was installed in the central tunnels in early October as planned and valuable reliability and functional testing continues whilst we await the next configuration.

The next software configuration, PD+11, will be the candidate for the start of Trial Running, however the development of PD+12 is now well underway to minimise any potential impact on the schedule should it be required for Trial Running.

This is the most difficult and challenging phase of the programme with significant integration and testing to complete. This must be done to the highest quality standards to ensure reliability of the railway from day one of passenger service.


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Nine new Elizabeth line stations are being delivered as part of the Crossrail programme – Paddington, Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road, Farringdon, Liverpool Street, Whitechapel, Canary Wharf, Custom House and Woolwich. The existing station at Abbey Wood has been extensively redeveloped by Network Rail.

At many stations, work is underway to complete the final fit-out and testing of key systems. Each Elizabeth line station has over 50 km of communications cabling, 200 CCTV cameras, 66 information displays, 200 radio antennas, 750 loudspeakers and 50 help points. All this technology needs to be fully installed, tested and integrated.

  • Paddington (Costain Skanska Joint Venture): Work underway to complete the mechanical and electrical and systems installation + testing and commissioning activities + final fit-out
  • Bond Street (Costain Skanska Joint Venture): Heavy mechanical and electrical systems installation + start of testing & commissioning activities
  • Tottenham Court Road (Laing O’Rourke): Testing & commissioning + assurance handover activities
  • Farringdon (Bam Ferrovial Kier Joint Venture): Testing & commissioning + assurance handover activities
  • Liverpool Street (Laing O’Rourke): Work underway to complete the mechanical and electrical and systems installation + testing & commissioning activities + final fit-out.
  • Whitechapel (Balfour Beatty Morgan Sindall Vinci Joint Venture): Work underway to complete the mechanical and electrical and system installation + start of testing & commissioning activities (Crossrail areas)
  • Canary Wharf: Work underway to complete mechanical and electrical systems installation + testing & commissioning activities
  • Custom House (Laing O’Rourke): Assurance handover activities
  • Woolwich (Balfour Beatty): Testing & commissioning + assurance handover activities

For up-to-date information on construction activity for all 41 stations, please visit the Near You webpage.

A Handover Strategy and Plan which sets the way forward for all 30-individual handover execution plans has been written for each station, shaft, portal and railway system has been developed.

Crossrail has successfully completed the first two major handovers. The responsibility for Victoria Dock Portal and Pudding Mill Lane Portal have now been transferred to the infrastructure manager, Rail for London Infrastructure, who will now maintain these assets.

There are 28 major handovers remaining – Mile End shaft and Custom House station will be the next of the elements to be handover.

The key priority for the programme is to ensure that all stations in the central section have reached a sufficient level of completion to support entry into Trial Running in 2020.

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Dynamic testing of the trains in the tunnels is underway using 4 x class 345 trains. A key purpose of testing is to identify and fix any software bugs in the train control system and to make sure everything works as planned.

Testing is being undertaken by a joint team of technical experts from Bombardier Transportation, Siemens and Crossrail. Testing currently takes place for four days each week and safety approval was obtained in August to proceed with close-headway, multi-train testing in ‘integrated’ mode which allows testing of the full signalling system in the central section. This was the first time this type of testing has taken place on the programme and is a significant achievement.

A series of software upgrades will be delivered to give the train control system its full functionality; this incremental approach to building up system-testing and verification will continue into 2020. Crossrail will then commence Trial Running the trains over many thousands of miles on the new railway to shake out any problems and ensure the highest levels of safety and reliability.


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The new maintenance team, based at the maintenance depot in Plumstead, has been providing track inspection support which enables them to become more familiar with the assets and locations prior to becoming the infrastructure manager. Whilst further training is being carried out for Traffic Managers to allow sufficient flexibility to operate the railway.

The Tunnel and Underground Construction Academy at Ilford is being used for track asset training as well as for Transport for London (TfL) maintenance teams to support Crossrail contractors to complete outstanding overhead lines and signalling work.

TfL and MTR-Elizabeth line will start operating stopping services from Paddington mainline station to Reading from 15 December this year under the TfL Rail brand.

When the services are first introduced, full-length (nine-car) trains will not yet be available as software updates will need to be implemented and tested. As a result, the service will start with seven-car units. Even with these shorter trains, customers will still benefit from greater capacity than the existing services that operate on the route. The full-length units will be the introduced as soon as possible.