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Our Plan to Complete the Elizabeth Line

Crossrail Ltd plans to bring the Elizabeth line into passenger service as soon as practically possible in 2021.

The central section remains on schedule to be substantially complete by the end of the first quarter this year except for Bond Street and Whitechapel stations where work will continue concluding at the end of 2020. Fit-out is nearing completion at many stations with all physical works complete in the tunnels, shafts and portals.

Crossrail expects to transition into intensive operational testing of the central section, known as Trial Running, in autumn 2020. This will see multiple trains operating in the tunnels to simulate the Elizabeth line timetable. Good progress continues to be made with completing software development for the signalling and train systems along with the safety assurance for the railway so that Trial Running can begin at the earliest opportunity this year.

Once Trial Running begins a period of time will be required to fully test the Elizabeth line before it can open for passenger service. This includes a final phase known as Trial Operations involving people being invited onto trains and stations to test real-time service scenarios.

Crossrail Ltd expects to open the central section between Paddington and Abbey Wood in summer 2021.

Following the opening of the central section, full services across the Elizabeth line route from Reading and Heathrow in the west to Abbey Wood and Shenfield in the east will commence by mid-2022. This will connect the eastern and western sections straight through central London.


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 critical railway systems ranging from radio communications and power to tunnel ventilation and signalling.

The train and signalling software is 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.

The latest Siemens software configuration, PD+11, was installed in the central tunnels in December. Each new version of the software increases functionality and the range of Dynamic Testing that can be undertaken.

PD+11 is still anticipated to be the version used 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 have 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.


Transport for London (TfL) is continuing its preparations for the handover of the next infrastructure elements, currently expected to be Mile End Shaft, Royal Oak Portal and Custom House station early in the new year.

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.

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.

Network Rail has completed all infrastructure works to support the introduction of TfL Rail services between Paddington and Reading in readiness for the timetable change on 15 December.