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Crossrail Project Update

By Crossrail Ltd

Crossrail remains on track to open the Elizabeth line in the first half of 2022, and we continue to make progress on completing the works necessary to start passenger services in the central section of the railway, from Paddington to Abbey Wood, next year. 

The final phase of the programme, Trial Operations, is now underway and is the final step before passenger services can commence.

Trial Operations involves operational exercises to ensure the safety and reliability of the railway for public use and to fully test the timetables. More than 150 scenarios will be carried out over the coming months to ensure the readiness of the railway for passenger service.

It will take several months to complete Trial Operations. The Elizabeth line is an immensely complex railway and Trial Operations will continue until it is clear that the railway can operate at the highest levels of safety and reliability before the start of passenger services. Only then will a specific opening date for the railway be announced.

Significant progress has been made across the project with delivery of the Elizabeth line now in its final complex stages. Trial Running of trains through the central tunnels is well underway as part of the major railway trials taking place throughout this year, with 12 trains per hour in regular operation to build reliability and flush out any issues with our systems and signalling software. We have recently commissioned one of the last major software configurations for the railway and the final software upgrades will take place in December.

Eight of the ten new central section stations have now been commissioned and transferred to Transport for London and we are now focussed on the handover of Canary Wharf and completion of the remaining works at Bond Street.


TRIAL OPERATIONS  

Delivery of the Elizabeth line reached its next significant milestone with the start of the Trial Operations on Saturday 20 November 2021.

Trial Operations involves operational exercises to ensure the safety and reliability of the railway for public use and to fully test the timetables. More than 150 scenarios will be carried out over the coming months to ensure the readiness of the railway for passenger service. These include exercises to make sure that all systems and procedures work effectively and staff can respond to any incidents, including customers being unwell or signal failures.
 
Trial Operations will also see organisations, including London Underground and Transport for London, MTR Elizabeth line, Network Rail and the emergency services all working together to respond to the trial scenarios.

A phased approach to Trial Operations has been adopted to build greater resilience into the railway and to allow for the earliest commencement of passenger services next year.

In the new year, a series of more complex exercises will include evacuations of trains and stations. The final step will see a period of ‘shadow running’, operating timetabled services ahead of the Elizabeth line opening.


TRIAL RUNNING  

Trial Running with 12 trains per hour (tph) has continued to build reliability and flush out any issues with our systems and signalling software. We have also recently undertaken timetable demonstrations of 24 tph, the service frequency in the central section when the Elizabeth line is fully operational.
 
The latest signalling software, ELR100, was commissioned during a two-week period in October. The commissioning period also allowed for the tunnel ventilation system (TVS) to be upgraded, as well as other key works to the rolling stock, signalling, and fleet rollout.
 
Before the end of the year, there will be further changes to the TVS to complete the functionality of the system software for passenger service. There will also be a smaller scale ELR110 signalling software update that will sweep up the remaining issues identified during Trial Running.


SAFETY  

Delivery of the Elizabeth line is in its final complex stages and the focus remains on ensuring that it is completed safely. The overall Health and Safety indicators remain within the parameters set by the programme.

The number of COVID-19 cases across sites has generally remained constant. The COVID-19 situation continues to be closely and carefully monitored.


CENTRAL SECTION PROGRESS 

The central section stations are now at an advanced stage, with eight out of the ten now under the responsibility of TfL. Canary Wharf will be the next station to be transferred by the middle of December. With the central section stations all now in an advanced state, Tier 1 contractors across the station sites are beginning to demobilise.
 
Bond Street station achieved its readiness to support Trial Operations on 8 October. This is a significant milestone for the station and for the wider programme. The team at Bond Street are now working on a plan to get the earliest opening date for the station. Possession of the oversite development and urban realm has also recently been handed to the developer.


SURFACE STATIONS 

Network Rail’s upgrade works for the Elizabeth line are also nearing completion. Network Rail’s station enhancement works on the western section of the route are largely complete with enhanced station upgrade works progressing in the east at Ilford and Romford. TfL is carrying out improvement works at Burnham station on the west, separate from the Network Rail works, and this should be completed in the new year.

Enhanced station improvements at Ilford and Romford are progressing with lift cars installed at both sites. In addition, the ticket hall ceiling is being completed at Ilford whilst ticket vending machines are being installed at Romford. The stations are expected to be completed in early 2022, with Network Rail continuing to monitor this to drive performance.


OPERATIONAL READINESS 

TfL Rail continues to deliver a good service with the Public Performance Measure (PPM) beating target during the four-week period between 19 September and 16 October. It compares favourably against the rest of the industry with only Merseyrail and London Overground performing better. The east section of the line achieved 97.5 per cent with the west section achieving 93 per cent of trains meeting their reliability target. The overall Moving Annual Average trend also continues to be better than target at 95.3 per cent.

The transition of the Liverpool Street to Shenfield service to a full nine-car Class 345 operation, with up to 22 trains, commenced on 1 November and is expected to be complete by the end of this year.


The next couple of months will be exciting for the programme as we progress through Trial Operations, the final stage before opening the railway, but also as we continue to build greater resilience into the railway. There is a real desire from everyone involved in the project to continue to build on the strong performance and deliver this railway for passenger service in the first half of next year.