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Elizabeth line services through central London expected to commence in summer 2021

By Peter MacLennan

Elizabeth line services through central London expected to commence in summer 2021
  • Crossrail Ltd is working to deliver the Elizabeth line as soon as practically possible in 2021
  • Crossrail project continues to make good progress – tunnels and track works are finished with most stations now nearing completion
  • Key focus for 2020 is commencing intensive operational testing of the railway at the earliest date possible

Crossrail Ltd today issued its latest update on progress to complete the Elizabeth line and confirmed that it plans to open the central section between Paddington and Abbey Wood in summer 2021.

This latest forecast is based on the current progress with completing software development for the signalling and train systems along with safety assurance for the railway so that intensive operational testing can begin in 2020.

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. Already on 15 December 2019, Transport for London started running the stopping services between Paddington mainline and Reading ahead of the service becoming part of the Elizabeth line.

Mark Wild, Chief Executive, Crossrail Ltd, said: “I know that Londoners are deeply frustrated by the delays to the Elizabeth line and we are doing everything we can to get this railway finished and open. We continue to make good progress with the central section now reaching substantial completion and we are increasingly confident that Bond Street station will be ready to open with the rest of the railway. We have a comprehensive plan to complete the Elizabeth line and the milestones we must hit during 2020, including the testing of the signalling and train systems and safety assurance, but there are no shortcuts to delivery of this hugely complex railway.

“Our latest assessment is that Elizabeth line services through central London will commence in summer 2021 but we are aiming to open the railway as soon as we can. This forecast assumes a period of time will be required to undertake intensive operational testing. The key focus for everyone on the Crossrail project is commencing intensive testing of the Elizabeth line as soon as we can in 2020, to enable passenger service as early as possible in 2021.”

Crossrail Ltd’s detailed cost forecasts continue to show that the project will be delivered within the additional funding range announced in November 2019. This indicated a range of between £400 million to £650 million more than the revised funding agreed by the Mayor, Government and Transport for London in December 2018.

ENDS

Notes to editors:

In November last year Crossrail Ltd confirmed that the Elizabeth line would open as soon as practically possible in 2021 and would be able to provide Londoners with further certainty about the expected delivery timetable early in the New Year.

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 Ltd has increasing confidence that Bond Street will be ready to open with the rest of the central section.

Crossrail Ltd expects to transition into intensive operational testing of the central section, known as Trial Running, in Autumn 2020. This will see multiple trains operating n 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.

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.

In April 2019, Crossrail Ltd outlined its new plan to complete the outstanding work and identified the four major tasks that must be completed to enable the Elizabeth line to open:

  • Build and test the software to integrate the train operating system with three different signalling systems
  • Install and test vital station systems
  • Complete installation of the equipment in the tunnels and test communications systems
  • And when this is done, trial run the trains over many thousands of miles on the completed railway to shake out any problems and ensure the highest levels of safety and reliability when passenger service begins

When the central section of the Elizabeth line opens the railway will operate as follows:

  • Paddington (Elizabeth line station) to Abbey Wood via central London
  • Liverpool Street (mainline station) to Shenfield
  • Paddington (mainline station) to Heathrow and Reading

Following the central section opening, full services across the Elizabeth line from Reading and Heathrow in the west to Abbey Wood and Shenfield in the east, will commence by mid-2022.