Crossrail Ltd plans to bring the Elizabeth line into passenger service as soon as practically possibly in the first half of 2022.
Delivery of the Elizabeth line is now in its complex final stages and is being completed at a time of great uncertainty due to the risks and potential impacts of further Covid outbreaks. Our focus is on meeting the immediate challenges posed by COVID-19.
We are planning to start intensive operational testing, known as Trial Running, at the earliest opportunity in 2021. From the start of Trial Running it will then take a period of time to fully test the Elizabeth line before it can open for passenger service. This includes a final phase known as Trial Operations to test real-time service scenarios to ensure the readiness of the railway.
Following the opening of the central section, full services across the Elizabeth line from Reading and Heathrow in the west to Abbey Wood and Shenfield in the east will be introduced. The introduction of full services will be aligned with the National Rail timetable change which occurs twice a year in May and December.
Crossrail is working to ensure that the programme is ready to commence intensive operational testing at the earliest opportunity. Once Crossrail completes the remaining programme for Trial Running, we will seek regulatory approval from the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) to commence intensive testing. This will see multiple trains operating in the tunnels to simulate the Elizabeth line timetable.
To commence Trial Running, Crossrail needs to complete the following key steps:
- Complete handover of the shafts and portals to TfL
- Complete Dynamic Testing of the signalling and train systems
- Complete integration testing across the routeway for Trial Running
- All central section stations certified as ready to support Trial Running
- Handover the completed Routeway to TfL
- Complete the safety and assurance process for the Elizabeth line and obtain regulatory approval from the ORR to commence Trial Running
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 sites are observing strict social distancing protocols and the numbers of people at each location is limited at all times.
Crossrail have increased efforts to complete the outstanding construction and assurance activities for Trial Running. This was supported by a 6-week construction blockade which came to an end on 17 September. The construction blockade was very successful with a high level of productivity achieved and a major programme of works delivered across the central section routeway by the supply chain. The blockade achieved 96% productivity against plan and helped to recover significant time lost due to the temporary pause in construction works as a result of COVID-19 earlier this year.
Across the programme, the majority of office-based staff continue to work remotely in order to limit the spread of COVID-19. The Government has advised that where people cannot work from home, such as those working in construction, manufacturing or critical infrastructure; they should continue to attend their workplace. As a result, we have not needed to pause works on the programme as we did earlier in the year.
Since the previous lockdown, we have introduced measures across all of our sites to ensure that we are compliant with Public Health England guidance. With the help of our supply chain, we have put in place strict social distancing measures, introduced temperature checks, introduced staggered working patterns, increased cleaning regimes and increased provision of welfare facilities to ensure our sites remain Covid safe.
CENTRAL SECTION PROGRESS
Station Progress Films
Much of the central section infrastructure is now complete and fit-out is nearing completion at many stations. Ten of the 30 big engineering structures have now reached either full handover to TfL or Staged Completion for Familiarisation: Custom House station; Royal Oak, Victoria Dock, Pudding Mill Lane, North Woolwich and Plumstead Portals; and Fisher Street, Mile End, Limmo, Eleanor Street and Stepney Green Shafts.
All of our shafts and portals have now reached either full handover to TfL (eight assets) or are under Staged Completion for Familiarisation (two assets). Staged Completion for Familiarisation is the step before full handover and means that the safety critical works have been completed with only minor works and assurance documentation left to complete. This will be managed with dedicated resource and allows TfL to start familiarising itself with the asset.
Farringdon station is our most advanced central London station with construction work at the station now substantially complete. This allows the Tier 1 contractor to start demobilising from the site as final non-critical snagging works are completed. The station then enters a 12-week countdown, leading to the formal handover of the station from Crossrail to Transport for London (TfL) expected in spring 2021.
We are seeing good progress at Bond Street station since we took over direct responsibility for the remaining works, and it has now been certified as ready for Trial Running (SC1) and means that all central section stations are able to support the start of intensive operational testing next year. We are continuing in our efforts to get Bond Street ready for the opening of the central section but there remains considerable amount of work to do before it is ready to support the Trial Operations phase.
MAIN DYNAMIC TESTING
Dynamic Testing of the train control system is advanced. A key purpose of testing is to identify and fix any software in the train control system and make sure everything works as planned.
For the first time, at the beginning of November, Crossrail saw the operation of six Class 345 trains in the central operating section (Abbey Wood – Paddington). These trains were controlled with the signalling system at line speed and in close headway. This is an important step in demonstrating performance of our systems and building the necessary reliability.
Crossrail plans to begin Systems Integration Dynamic Testing (SIDT) in December. Testing will take place in the central operating section with an increasing number of Class 345 trains, ramping up to eight trains. This will provide an opportunity to test how well the railway systems work in operational-like situations and will be undertaken as the extensive safety case to the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) to commence Trial Running is finalised.
The success of the summer blockade has provided a blueprint for the remaining works, which we will embed into the next blockade we have planned at the end of November. It will run for 11 days and it will take place across the central section routeway, shafts and portals. It will be focussed on completing the outstanding trace-dependent works that are a requirement for SIDT and will enable entry into Trial Running. Works include testing and commissioning, systems and signalling corrections and critical maintenance activities required to operate safely under the operations rule book.
Dynamic Testing Films
The Crossrail programme is progressing assurance of the railway. Assurance documentation required for entry into Trial Running remains a priority.
A huge amount of effort is going into completing the extensive safety assurance work necessary to take the infrastructure into use as a railway, with final work on hazards and documentation being completed to match the detailed configuration of the infrastructure.
TfL Rail services between Shenfield and Liverpool Street and Paddington to Heathrow and Reading continue to operate with high reliability. By mid-November, 94.9% of trains met the Public Performance Measure (PPM).
Further software upgrades are being introduced in early December for the 9-Car Class 345 trains that operate to Heathrow which should improve the reliability of this part of the fleet, with a further major software release due at the beginning of February 2021.
Heathrow services continue to be operated by Class 345 trains, which were introduced to the route in mid-September. Further software updates are required from Bombardier as part of the further roll out and upgrading of the Class 345 fleet.
In preparation for taking on the remaining engineering assets, training of signalling and maintenance staff continues in full compliance with the safe systems of work introduced in response to COVID-19.
Network Rail’s major upgrade of the existing railway and stations on the east and west of the Elizabeth line will be completed as soon as soon as reasonably practicable in 2021.
On the eastern section, Network Rail works at Ilford are now expected to be complete by May 2021 and works at Romford should conclude in late 2021.
On the western section, Network Rail works continue with the construction of the foundations and perimeter walls for the new station building at Hayes & Harlington. At Southall foundations have been installed for the elevated walkway that will link the footbridge to the new station building. The pre-cast flooring for the new station building has also been installed. Stone cladding has been added to the new station building at Acton Main Line station and fit-out installation of the new ticket office has been completed.
At Ealing Broadway the canopy is taking shape with the steelworks and roof installation progressing to plan. Work on the new station building at West Drayton has continued with the installation of steelwork and roofing. Glazed brick cladding has started to be installed at West Ealing station and cladding works has also continued on the platform stairs.
Network Rail continue to work to complete their power supply upgrade on the lines between Liverpool Street and Gidea Park.