The new Elizabeth line trains were built at Alstom's UK site (formerly Bombardier Transportation) in Derby. Constructed using strong but lightweight materials such as aluminium for the body shell, the trains have been designed to be light, yet well equipped for performance and customer comfort with features such as intelligent lighting and temperature control systems.
The Elizabeth line route consists of three sections – the new build central section, and the existing east and west surface sections. All of these operate different signalling systems that need to successfully work together to ensure the safe and reliable running of the Elizabeth line.
In November 2012, Crossrail Ltd awarded the signalling system contract for the railway’s central section to a consortium comprising Siemens PLC and Invensys Rail Limited. The contract covered the design, manufacture, supply, installation, testing and commissioning of a train control system for the central section.
By March 2013, Crossrail Ltd had appointed the contract for the central section communications and control systems to Siemens PLC. The scope of works included the design, testing, installation and commissioning of key communications and control systems within the Elizabeth line's central section including CCTV and public address systems at stations, customer information displays, staff and emergency services radio systems and the data networks that will carry information to and from the Route Control Centre (RCC). Design and testing for the new communications and control systems were undertaken by the contractor at Ashby-de-la-Zouch in Leicestershire.
In early 2014, TfL confirmed that it had signed a contract with Bombardier for the delivery of rolling stock and a new depot for the Elizabeth line. The contract between TfL and Bombardier covered the supply, delivery and maintenance of 65 new trains (later increased to 70) and a depot at Old Oak Common. TfL worked with Bombardier on the final design for the trains with the first delivered in May 2017 and the last train delivered in December 2021. In 2021 Alstom completed the acquisition of Bombardier Transportation. The contract supported 760 UK manufacturing jobs plus 80 apprenticeships.
Barber & Osgerby were appointed by TfL as design partner for the fleet of trains. The London-based design studio worked on the interior and exterior designs with TfL and Bombardier. The interior design and colour palette were carefully selected to provide an accessible and welcoming environment. The design included darker floors and natural finish materials that will wear in, and not wear out, ensuring they retain their high-quality feel for years to come. The light-coloured ceilings also maximise the feeling of height and openness inside the new trains. The material and colour choices also align with Elizabeth line stations for a consistent customer experience.
By September 2014, Crossrail Ltd confirmed that it had awarded the contract for the provision of platform screens to Knorr-Bremse Rail Systems (UK) Limited. The award of the platform screen contract was the last major railway systems contract to be awarded by Crossrail Ltd. The platform screen system was designed and developed at Melksham, Wiltshire along with the manufacture of the electronics and operating system. The assembly and testing of the platform screen system took place at their Wolverton rail facility near Milton Keynes. The screens incorporate doors, platform facing advertising, customer information screens, lighting, CCTV and more.
Alstom and Siemens worked closely to increase the reliability of the train and signalling software and committed some of their most experienced team members from around the world, so that the Elizabeth line testing of the signalling and train software could be completed before the opening of the railway.
The Crossrail Integration Facility in Chippenham provides an ‘off-site’ environment for the integration testing of these critical railway systems. The tests enable signalling software and data from Alstom and Siemens to be integrated together and to mitigate any errors or defects early, before being tested on the railway.
In 2018 the project began infrastructure-testing of the trains between Abbey Wood and Canary Wharf, with main Dynamic Testing commencing at the beginning of 2019 with a single train. This then moved to testing two trains, one in each tunnel, and then to close-headway multi-train testing in ‘integrated’ mode which involved testing of the full signalling system in the central section, running at line speed and at minimum separation. You can learn more about the testing and commissioning process here.
The Elizabeth line's main depot is located at Old Oak Common, the Route Control Centre is located at Romford and the maintenance facility is located at Plumstead where staff and equipment are housed for the maintenance and upkeep of the tracks and other infrastructure in the Elizabeth line tunnels.