Delivery of the Elizabeth line is now in its complex final stages with a comprehensive plan to complete the railway focused on the remaining construction and systems integration, followed by intensive operational testing. Crossrail Ltd is working to complete the remaining infrastructure so it can fully test the railway and successfully transition the project as an operational railway to Transport for London (TfL).
The Crossrail programme has now reached the point for it to be handed over to TfL as the operator and maintainer of the railway. The process to handover the completed rail infrastructure is underway, with Crossrail Ltd planning to start intensive operational testing, known as Trial Running, at the earliest opportunity in 2021. This marks the project’s key transition from construction to an operational railway.
To align with this next phase of the programme the responsibility for the governance of the Crossrail programme will now move to sit directly with TfL. TfL and the Department for Transport (DfT), joint sponsors of Crossrail, have worked closely with Crossrail Ltd to agree the transition plan to move the project to TfL. This ensures that decision making between Crossrail Ltd and TfL is seamless and fully aligned during the critical final phases of the programme as the operational testing is undertaken and the remaining parts of the railway are completed and transferred to TfL.
The transition will simplify responsibilities, with a single Elizabeth Line Delivery Group comprised of senior members of TfL, London Underground and Crossrail Ltd, under the Chairmanship of Transport Commissioner Andy Byford. Under the new arrangements Crossrail Chief Executive Officer, Mark Wild, will report directly to Andy Byford.
High-level oversight will be provided by a Special Purpose Committee of the TfL Board to be known as the Elizabeth Line Committee; this Committee will meet in public every eight weeks and include members of the TfL Board; it will also be attended by a special representative from the DfT as joint sponsor of the project and given its national significance.
Andy Byford, London’s Transport Commissioner, said: “I would like to thank Crossrail Chair Tony Meggs and the Crossrail Board who have led the delivery of this vital project through the remaining construction and systems testing to a point where increased testing of trains in the central tunnels will begin shortly. As it gets closer to becoming an operational railway the time is right for the responsibility for Crossrail to transfer to TfL and the people who will run it. Mark Wild and his team will now work with me to safely achieve the earliest possible opening date for what will be a magnificent addition to London’s transport network.”
Tony Meggs CB, Chair, Crossrail Ltd said: “As the Elizabeth line moves into its final phases we have always planned that the governance of Crossrail would transition into TfL, and now we are executing that plan. The new structures will simplify and align decision making over the coming months as the railway is brought to completion and commences intensive operational testing. I am very pleased that, in addition to the Crossrail executive team, a number of our highly experienced Non-Executive Directors will continue to provide their support and expertise to the programme under the new governance arrangements; this continuity is vital. It has been a privilege to have served as Crossrail Chair since January 2019. This is truly one of the greatest transport programmes in Europe today, and it will transform the lives of many people for generations to come.”
Transport for London, the GLA and government continue to have constructive discussions around the additional funding needed to complete the Crossrail project.
Information for journalist:
Current status of Crossrail programme
Construction for the Elizabeth line is largely complete with handover of the completed rail infrastructure to TfL now underway. Recent progress includes eight of ten shafts and portals completed and handed over to TfL; handover of the first central section station, Custom House and the introduction of the first full-length Class 345 train in passenger service between Paddington and Heathrow. However, this is one Europe’s most complex infrastructure projects, comprising millions of separate elements, all of which must work together reliably to ensure the safe and successful operation of the Elizabeth line for passengers who will use it every day. A huge programme of safety assurance is currently underway.
Crossrail Ltd continues to make good progress with completing the remaining construction works, with much of this work coming to an end, along with software testing for the signalling and train systems. Crossrail Ltd will shortly commence testing of the next evolution of the signalling software, helping to further build operational reliability. Once software testing completes later this year, Crossrail will then begin an enabling phase for Trial Running with testing in the tunnels undertaken with an increased number of trains.
Transition of Crossrail programme to integrate with TfL
The handover to TfL was further formalised in the Crossrail Transition Action Plan which was submitted to the DfT as part of the Extraordinary Funding & Financing Agreement made in May 2020. The DfT will continue to play a role in overseeing the final stages of the railway and will have a representative at the special purpose committee as well as attend quarterly meetings with the Transport Commissioner and Mayor.
The Crossrail Board met for the last time in its current form on 17 September. As part of the governance transition to TfL, Crossrail Chief Executive Mark Wild will report to Andy Byford as TfL Commissioner, there will be no other changes to the Crossrail team. Several members of the Crossrail Board will participate in the new governance arrangements, ensuring a smooth transition and retention of critical knowledge. Over time further phases of the transition will take place as Crossrail becomes a fully integrated part of TfL.