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Crossrail Project Update

By Crossrail Ltd

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 and keeping the programme moving forward.

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 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 remaining 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.

CRL Key Steps to Trial Running


Essential and business critical work has been continuing across the programme. Crossrail sites are observing strict social distancing protocols and the numbers of people at each location is limited at all times.

Crossrail are increasing efforts to complete the outstanding construction and assurance activities for Trial Running. This is being supported by a 6-week construction blockade during August and September across our tunnels, shafts and portals to complete critical construction works in the routeway for Trial Running.

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The construction blockade is progressing well and achieving targeted levels of productivity. During the blockade, we are also progressing Routeway Integration Testing, completion of the scenario testing for Trial Running.


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Much of the central section infrastructure is now complete and fit-out is nearing completion at many stations. We have now handed over ten of the 30 big engineering structures to Transport for London (TfL): Custom House station; Royal Oak, Victoria Dock, Pudding Mill Lane, North Woolwich and Plumstead Portals; and Fisher Street, Mile End, Limmo, and Eleanor Street Shafts.

All of our shafts and portals except Stepney Green Shaft have reached either full handover to the Infrastructure Manager or are under Staged Completion for Familiarisation.

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 Rail for London to start familiarising itself with the asset.

All central section stations, except Bond Street, have now been certified as ready to support Trial Running. Bond Street is uniquely affected by the new COVID-19 world due to the volume of work remaining and the number of people required on site to complete the station. This meant that the work remaining at Bond Street for Trial Running needed to be re-planned. As a result, Crossrail Ltd and Costain Skanska Joint Venture mutually agreed to conclude the existing contract on 24 June. Crossrail Ltd will oversee completion of the remaining works in-house at Bond Street which will allow to re-plan and complete the work for Trial Running.


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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.

The latest Siemens software configuration, PD+11, was installed in the central tunnels in December, and testing resumed at the end of May following Crossrail’s safe stop in response to COVID-19.

Testing of PD+11 is nearing completion meaning that Crossrail will have a viable software product available for Trial Running. Prior to starting the construction blockade the remaining signalling tests will be carried out so that any changes to the software can be incorporated ahead of the new releases in the autumn.

The next evolution of software, referred to as TR2, will be ready for Trial Running and will commence testing after the construction blockade and is expected to be the software candidate for Trial Running. TR2 software will be uploaded for Dynamic Testing this autumn which will allow us to increase the number of trains that we are able to undertake testing with.

Once software testing completes later this year, Crossrail will then begin an enabling phase for Trial Running, known as Systems Integration Dynamic Testing, with testing in the tunnels undertaken with an increased number of 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.

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The Crossrail programme is progressing assurance of the railway. Assurance documentation required for entry into Trial Running remains a priority.

All safety documentation for the routeway has been submitted by the contractor and is an important step in the journey to Trial Running.

Much of the remaining work for the Elizabeth line is complex involving hooking up, integrating and testing the completed infrastructure and railway systems along with the finalisation of the extensive safety case to the ORR who will give the go-ahead to commence Trial Running.


TfL Rail continues to operate to a high level of reliability, with a Public Performance above 96%. Whilst customer numbers are currently around only 40% compared to last year, a full schedule has been in operation since the beginning of July.

Maintenance and Operator training has resumed. The training centre at Ilford (TUCA) has restarted face-to-face training sessions, although the number of delegates that can be trained at any one time has reduced to comply with social distancing guidelines. Where possible training material has also been reworked so it can be delivered remotely.


Network Rail’s major upgrade of the existing railway and stations on the east and west of the Elizabeth line is now into its final stages.

The delivery of the enhanced ticket halls and access improvements on the surface section is well underway and progressing well with particular progress at Acton Main Line, West Ealing and Ealing Broadway. Due to the temporary pause in Network Rail works as a result of COVID-19 it is likely that these enhanced stations, along with West Drayton, Hayes & Harlington and Southall, will be completed as soon as reasonably practicable in 2021.