A significant milestone has been marked today with the official completion of the permanent track for the Elizabeth line – London’s newest railway.
Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling and Deputy Mayor for Transport Val Shawcross joined Crossrail Chairman Sir Terry Morgan and Chief Executive Andrew Wolstenholme 35 metres below ground, in the eastbound tunnel of the new Whitechapel Elizabeth line station – where the final rail clips were affixed to the track by Ellen McGuinness, Track Quality Control Engineer, to commemorate the milestone.
With the track fully laid, the £14.8 billion project has entered a new phase as construction trains are now able to travel the full length of both new tunnels from end to end. A construction train completed the journey for the first time earlier this summer – entering at Plumstead in east London, passing through 9 new central station platforms and exiting at Royal Oak Portal in the west, with light at both ends of the tunnel.
More than 1,000 highly skilled men and women have installed the 63,000 sleepers, 51,419 metres of rail and over 800 sections of Long Welded Rail (LWR) which make up the new 50+ kilometres of Elizabeth line track. Over 13,500 m3 of concrete – enough to fill several Olympic sized swimming pools, was poured by the concreting train as part of the track installation.
Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London said: “The completion of the Elizabeth line track is a huge milestone on the way to finishing a project that will transform transport across London and the South East. With brand new trains and step-free stations, the Elizabeth line will provide a truly world-class service for passengers, and this important landmark is testament to the hard work and expertise of all the men and women who have been working on the project.
“Alongside progressing plans for Crossrail 2, the completion of the Elizabeth line will be vital for helping us deal with London’s growing population, it will boost jobs across the UK, and improve the quality of life for millions of people living and working in the region.”
Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport, said: “We are delivering the biggest rail modernisation programme for over a century, creating jobs and business opportunities right around the country. The Elizabeth line will transform rail transport in London with better and faster journeys for passengers and the official completion of the track is a hugely significant milestone towards delivering this scheme on time and within available funding.
“But this isn’t just a success story for London. Crossrail, Europe’s biggest construction project, has created jobs and driven economic growth across the UK with companies based here winning 96% of the scheme’s contracts.”
Sir Terry Morgan, Crossrail Chairman said: “The completion of the permanent track brings us another crucial step closer to the Elizabeth line opening in December 2018. We’re delighted to be officially marking this important milestone as it also signifies a great achievement for all the dedicated men and women who are working on the project. The Elizabeth line will transform rail travel across London and the South East for millions of passengers with faster journeys, less congestion and improved travel links for a better connected London.”
Howard Smith, Transport for London’s Elizabeth line Operations Director, said: “It’s a huge moment in the project, turning it from a construction project into a railway, with around 15 months until our customers ride the first trains beneath the streets of London. Crossrail will continue working hard to fit-out the line and stations ahead of TfL preparing to run and maintain the Elizabeth line from next year.”
With just over a year to go until the Elizabeth line opens, the Crossrail project is now focused on the installation of platform screen doors, signalling, tunnel ventilation and communications systems along with the overhead lines that will power the new trains.
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The route will pass through 40 stations from Reading and Heathrow in the west, through new twin-bore 21 km tunnels to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east. The Transport for London (TfL) run railway will be named the Elizabeth line when services through central London open in December 2018. The Crossrail project is being delivered by Crossrail Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of TfL, and is jointly sponsored by the Department for Transport and TfL.