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Trial Operations underway ahead of Elizabeth line opening next year

By TfL Press Office

Trial Operations underway ahead of Elizabeth line opening next year
  • Trial Operations is the final step before passenger services can commence
  • This rigorous set of exercises will allow the railway to demonstrate the highest levels of safety and reliability before it can start carrying customers
  • Elizabeth line remains on track for passenger services to begin in the first half of 2022

Delivery of the Elizabeth line has reached its next significant milestone with the Trial Operations stage now underway. This marks the final phase of the programme before the Elizabeth line opens for passenger services between Paddington and Abbey Wood in the first half of 2022.

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. 

The start of Trial Operations is the latest milestone in turning the project into a live railway, which has been the focus since the project’s governance was transferred to TfL in October 2020. Prior to October 2020 the Crossrail Board led the project with neither the DfT nor TfL being in control of the governance or construction of the line.


Paddington Elizabeth line station


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

It will take several months to complete this final complicated phase. The Elizabeth line is an immensely complex railway and Trial Operations will continue until it is clear that it 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. Trial Operations will also see a number of 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.

Further software adjustments to the train and signalling and tunnel ventilation system will take place in December and over the Christmas period.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Reaching the start of Trial Operations is a significant milestone in the delivery of the Elizabeth line, and it’s really exciting to be moving into this phase. The next few months are crucial to making sure the railway can open safely next year, and everyone is working incredibly hard to reach that goal. The Elizabeth line will help transform travel in London and the South East, dramatically improving transport links, supporting regeneration and boosting our economic recovery.”

Andy Byford, Transport for London’s Commissioner, said: “Everyone is working hard to make sure we can open the Elizabeth line safely and reliably in the first half of 2022.

“The project continues to have my full, personal attention, and with huge progress made to date, it is great to now enter this final stretch. The Trial Operations phase will see staff really get to grips with all aspects of this complex and transformational railway to ensure we are ready to welcome customers next year.”

Minister Baroness Vere said: “I'm pleased that a key milestone has been achieved with the start of Trial Operations - a crucial, final step to ensure the highest standards of performance and safety of the railway, ahead of the Elizabeth line opening to passengers next year.”

Mark Wild, Crossrail Chief Executive, said: “We are delighted to have reached the next key stage in delivery of the Elizabeth line with the start of Trial Operations. It will take several months to complete this final phase. This is an immensely complex railway and we must be able to demonstrate the highest levels of reliability. Everyone is working hard to deliver the Elizabeth line as soon as practically possible and we remain on track to commence passenger services in the first half of 2022.”


Woolwich Elizabeth line station


The Elizabeth line will help transform life and travel in London and the South East by dramatically improving transport links, cutting journey times, providing additional capacity and transforming accessibility with spacious new stations and walk-through trains. The new railway will provide new journey options and support wider regeneration, creating jobs, business opportunities and providing a huge economic boost. It will also connect London’s major employment centres and increase central London rail capacity by 10 per cent.




Notes to Editors

  • Trial Operations began on Saturday 20 November 2021.
  • Crossrail continues to make good progress on completing the remaining works necessary to start passenger services in the central section of the railway, from Paddington to Abbey Wood, during the first half of next year. 
  • The final cost will not exceed the budget which TfL inherited when it assumed full control of the project, and London will ultimately fund the majority of the cost of the Elizabeth line.
  • When the Elizabeth line opens it will initially operate as three separate railways. Customers from the west will initially need to change at Paddington for services into the central section of the route, and customers from the east will initially need to change at Liverpool Street.
  • A revised plan for an earlier full opening of the Elizabeth line has been developed. The latest plans ensure that Elizabeth line services from Reading, Heathrow and Shenfield can connect with the central tunnels as soon as possible after the opening of the central section of the railway. The earliest expected date for this is autumn 2022. The final milestone will be no later than May 2023, when the final timetable will be in place.
  • Trial Running of trains through the central tunnels has been underway since May as part of the major railway trials taking place throughout this year, with 12 trains per hour (tph) in regular operation to build reliability and flush out any issues with systems and signalling software.
  • Eight of the ten central section stations are now under the responsibility of Transport for London (TfL) with Canary Wharf the next station to be transferred. Bond Street has achieved an important milestone and is now ready for full scale passenger evacuation and emergency intervention. This is the minimum requirement needed to support Trial Operations, and for the railway to enter into passenger service. With the central section stations all now in an advanced state, Tier 1 contractors across the station sites are beginning to demobilise.
  • 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 to the Network Rail works, and this should be completed in the new year.


Woolwich Elizabeth line station