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Update on progress to complete the Elizabeth line - August 2019

By Peter MacLennan

Update on progress to complete the Elizabeth line - August 2019
  • Crossrail project making good progress as plan to complete the railway is implemented - the central section of the Elizabeth line remains on schedule to open between October 2020 and March 2021
  • Many central section stations have reached an advanced state of completion with final fit-out and testing and commissioning work underway
  • Crossrail is a hugely complex project and risks remain across the programme with significant integration and testing to complete
  • Key focus for 2020 will be testing the operational railway to ensure it is safe and reliable for passengers

Crossrail Ltd. today issued the first in a new series of updates on its progress to complete the Elizabeth line.

At the end of April, Crossrail Ltd outlined a new plan by the new leadership team to complete the outstanding works and safely bring the Elizabeth line into passenger service at the earliest possible date. The new team has committed to being fully open and transparent as it works through the critical final stages of the project.

The high-level plan to complete the railway has progressed into a logically linked and detailed Delivery Control Schedule. A list of 120 key programme milestones have been identified to enable the programme to progress to the Trial Operations phase and each must be successfully delivered to enable the Elizabeth line to open.

Progress over the last three months includes:

  • Close headway, multi-train testing commenced on 8 June 2019 as part of the Dynamic Testing phase
  • Crossrail Ltd has established a co-located joint team of senior technical experts from Bombardier, Siemens and Crossrail to drive forward a coordinated approach to Dynamic Testing of the train and signalling systems
  • Testing and commissioning activity is taking place at all central section stations except at Bond Street where fit-out and systems installation continues
  • Fit-out of the tunnels is almost complete, Crossrail Ltd will shortly hand over the completed shafts and portals starting with Victoria Dock Portal
  • Fifteen new class 345 trains are in operation with TfL Rail on the eastern and western parts of the route, building reliability and achieving a high standard of performance
  • The first nine-car (full-length) train is now in passenger service from Hayes & Harlington to Paddington
  • Network Rail has awarded contracts for the construction of the remaining new or enhanced ticket halls at Southall, Hayes & Harlington, West Drayton, Ealing Broadway, West Ealing and Acton Main Line stations.

Bombardier and Siemens are working closely to increase the reliability of the train and signalling software and have committed some of their most experienced team members from around the world so that Crossrail Ltd can complete testing of the technical railway systems (Dynamic Testing) before intensive trials to simulate the full railway service (Trial Running). Extensive off-site simulation is being undertaken by Siemens and Bombardier at the Crossrail Integration Facility in Chippenham and by Bombardier in Derby. Each new version of the train and signalling software increases functionality and the range of Dynamic Testing that can be undertaken.

By the end of this year, final fit-out and testing and commissioning are due to be completed at many stations and Dynamic Testing will be in its final stages. The Trial Running phase will commence in the first quarter of 2020.

Crossrail Ltd has identified a six-month window between October 2020 and March 2021 for the delivery of the central section and this remains unchanged. Following the central section opening, full services across the Elizabeth line from Reading and Heathrow in the west to Abbey Wood and Shenfield in the east, will commence as soon as possible. Crossrail Ltd will be able to provide increasing certainty about when the Elizabeth line will open once we start to fully test the operational railway and integrate the train and signalling software.

Mark Wild, Chief Executive, Crossrail Ltd said: “Work to complete the Elizabeth line continues to make good progress against our new plan. Fit-out is nearing completion at many stations and testing of the train and signalling system is underway but there is still a huge amount to do before the central section can open. Crossrail is now in its critical and most challenging final phase due to the significant integration and testing work that remains to be completed. We are fully focused on completing the Elizabeth line and ensuring a safe and reliable passenger service as quickly as possible.” 

Crossrail remains a hugely complex project, but pressures remain which the team is working hard to mitigate. The main areas of programme risk and uncertainty are currently contractor productivity, software testing for the train and signalling systems and systems integration. Crossrail Ltd is working closely with its Tier One contractors to demobilise their station delivery teams so that it can move ahead with integrating the nine new stations with the rest of the railway.

Notes to editors:

There are four major tasks that must be completed:

  • Build and test the software to integrate the train operating system with three different signalling systems
  • Install and test vital station systems
  • Complete installation of the equipment in the tunnels and test communications systems
  • And when this is done, trial run the trains over many thousands of miles on the completed railway to shake out any problems and ensure the highest levels of safety and reliability when passenger service begins

The train and signalling software is tested both off site and in the tunnel environment. Crossrail is currently using a signalling software configuration called P_D+8. Testing with a later configuration (P_D+10) is due to commence in October, this is expected to be the release that enables progress to the Trial Running phase in the first quarter of 2020. The previous software configuration (P_D+7) allowed Crossrail to commence close headway, multi-train testing.

Nine new Elizabeth line stations are being constructed as part of the Crossrail programme – Paddington, Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road, Farringdon, Liverpool Street, Whitechapel, Canary Wharf, Custom House and Woolwich. The existing National Rail station at Abbey Wood has been extensively redeveloped by Network Rail to be the major terminus for the Elizabeth line in southeast London.

Each Elizabeth line station has over 50 km of communications cabling, 200 CCTV cameras, 66 information displays, 200 radio antennas, 750 loudspeakers and 50 help points. All this technology needs to be fully installed, tested and integrated.

When the Elizabeth line opens the railway will operate as follows:

  • Paddington (Elizabeth line station) to Abbey Wood via central London
  • Liverpool Street (main line station) to Shenfield
  • Paddington (main line station) to Heathrow and Reading

The central section of the Elizabeth line will open between Paddington and Abbey Wood and link the West End, the City of London, Canary Wharf and southeast London with initially 12 trains per hour during the peak. It is expected that all stations on the route will open except for Bond Street which is delayed because of design and delivery challenges. Crossrail Ltd is working closely with Costain Skanska Joint Venture to ensure the station is ready to open at the earliest opportunity.