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. It involves multiple trains operating in the central operating section to test the timetable and build reliability, while the final works to the stations are completed. It will 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 involving people being invited onto trains and stations 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 of works 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
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 to make up some of the lost time caused as a consequence of COVID-19. This was supported by a 6-week construction blockade which came to an end on 17 September, an 11-day blockade in November, and a further blockade over the festive period. The construction blockades have been 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.
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.
Our controlled delivery environment - on site and in the office – continues with daily tracking of resource affected and frequent reviews of policy to ensure alignment to Transport for London, Public Health England and industry best practice. 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. Eleven of the 30 big engineering structures have now reached full handover to TfL: 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 central section stations including Bond Street are certified to support Trial Running. Four of the central section stations have had all of their assets assured and certified as ready for use, the last stage for stations in the Trial Running pathway. The remaining central section stations are scheduled to achieve this by the end of the month.
All routeway assets have their key assurance Safety Justification documents at an endorsed level with three already accepted by the independent assurance Board, including the Signalling Safety Justification for the TR2 software.
Work continues on completing the works at our central station sites. Paddington, Tottenham Court Road, Liverpool Street and Woolwich have reached the important milestone before testing and commissioning activities can start. Farringdon, our most advanced central London station, is expected to complete formal hand over to TfL in the coming months.
SYSTEMS INTEGRATION DYNAMIC TESTING
Systems Integration Dynamic Testing (SIDT) commenced as planned at the beginning of December. SIDT is a form of system testing with trains simulating a timetabled passenger service. This is a major step towards Trial Running.
Testing is taking place in the central operating section with an increased number of Class 345 trains, up to a maximum of eight trains. This provides 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.
Systems Integration Dynamic Testing (SIDT) is making good progress. While it is still early, performance of SIDT is looking positive and as expected it is uncovering issues to be rectified. There has been a lot of learning within the Route Control Centre and this has improved the ability to manage the service.
Dynamic Testing Films
The Crossrail programme is progressing assurance of the railway. Assurance documentation required for entry into Trial Running remains a priority.
The closure of ‘dependencies’, which are pieces of outstanding assurance work, remains critical to getting the Safety Justification documents for the routeway accepted.
While there is a significant amount of work to do to close these dependencies, progress has been made in making the assurance process itself as efficient as possible to ensure it can accommodate the remaining assurance work.
TfL Rail services between Shenfield and Liverpool Street and Paddington to Heathrow and Reading continue to operate with high reliability and remains above target at 96.4% Public Performance Measure (PPM).
The Class 345 nine car passenger trains (full length units) were re-introduced to the Reading route on at the end of December replacing the Class 345 seven car trains (reduced length units). This is a significant step forward, using the latest software to improve the reliability of the trains and increasing mileage.
The first Liverpool Street (main line station) ‘blockade’ was successfully completed over Christmas – with the next one planned for Easter. When complete these works will provide platforms long enough to accommodate Class 345 nine car passenger trains operating into the main line station from Shenfield.
Training of operations and maintenance staff remains on schedule but COVID-19 remains the biggest risk to both trainers and trainees. Distanced learning and classroom / simulator facilities are being utilised as required and an additional training resource brought in to support training.
Testing of the operational processes continues and will help identify any issues required to be resolved. Further operating and maintenance demonstrations using the ‘Yellow Plant’ maintenance trains have also been completed.
Network Rail’s major upgrade of the existing railway and stations on the east and west of the Elizabeth line continue to progress, with step-free access being prioritised where possible.
Acton Main Line and West Ealing will become step-free in early 2021 and will be followed by Ealing Broadway, Southall, Hayes & Harlington, West Drayton, Romford and Ilford in intervals over the next 12 months.
Over the past month Network Rail have commissioned and installed the lifts to platforms 2/3 and 4 at Acton Main Line. The works to install the lifts at Ealing Broadway continue and so does platform reinstatement work to all four platforms. Work is progressing well at Southall station with cladding installed for the new station building and the footbridge has been glazed and sealed. The steelwork for the new station building at Hayes & Harlington has commenced installation as well as the installation of the new platform lifts. The lower level roofing works on the station building extension has been completed at West Drayton and work continues with the installation of the lifts.