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Our Plan to Complete the Elizabeth Line

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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. For further information, please visit Our New Ways of Working webpage.

Crossrail have increased efforts to complete the outstanding construction and assurance activities for Trial Running. This was supported by a 6-week construction blockade which came to an end in September. The construction blockade was very successful with a high level of productivity achieved and a major programme of works delivered across the central section routeway by the supply chain. The blockade achieved 96% productivity against plan and helped to recover significant time lost due to the temporary pause in construction works as a result of COVID-19 earlier this year.

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Across the programme, the majority of office-based staff continue to work remotely in order to limit the spread of COVID-19.

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. 


KEY STEPS TO TRIAL RUNNING

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 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 following 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


RAILWAY TESTING

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The Elizabeth line has a number of critical railway systems ranging from radio communications and power to tunnel ventilation and signalling.

The major programme focus now is on completing the software development for the signalling and train systems along with safety certification for the railway to support the programme’s entry into intensive operational testing, known as Trial Running, at the earliest opportunity.

The train and signalling software are tested both off-site and in the tunnel environment. A key purpose of testing is to identify and fix any software bugs in the train control system and to make sure everything works as planned. For further information, please visit our Signalling and Testing webpage.

Testing is being undertaken by a joint team of technical experts from Bombardier Transportation, Siemens and Crossrail. A series of software upgrades will be delivered to give the train control system its full functionality.

Crossrail has completed intensive testing for the next evolution of software, known as TR2, helping to further build operational reliability. We are also making good progress with the complex routeway integration scenario testing for Trial Running, which now sits at 81% complete.  

Crossrail will begin an enabling phase for Trial Running in December, 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 ORR to commence Trial Running is finalised.

This is the most difficult and challenging phase of the programme with significant integration and testing to complete. This must be done to the highest quality standards to ensure the reliability of the railway from day one of passenger service.

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NEW STATIONS

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

At many stations, work is underway to complete the final fit-out and testing of key systems. Each Elizabeth line station has an average of 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. 

  • Paddington (Costain Skanska Joint Venture): Work underway to complete the mechanical and electrical and systems installation + testing and commissioning activities + final fit-out
  • Bond Street: Heavy mechanical and electrical systems installation + start of testing & commissioning activities
  • Tottenham Court Road (Laing O’Rourke): Tier 1 contractor demobilisation + final non-critical snagging works
  • Farringdon (Bam Ferrovial Kier Joint Venture): Testing & commissioning + assurance handover activities
  • Liverpool Street (Laing O’Rourke): testing & commissioning activities + f assurance handover activities
  • Whitechapel (Balfour Beatty Morgan Sindall Vinci Joint Venture): Work underway to complete the mechanical and electrical and system installation + testing & commissioning activities (Crossrail areas)
  • Canary Wharf: Work underway to complete mechanical and electrical systems installation + testing & commissioning activities
  • Custom House (Laing O’Rourke): Handed over to Transport for London (TfL)
  • Woolwich (Balfour Beatty): Testing & commissioning + assurance handover activities

For up-to-date information on construction activity for all 41 stations, please visit the Near You webpage.  

Much of the central section infrastructure is now complete and fit-out is nearing completion at many stations. Ten of the 30 big engineering structures have now reached either full handover to TfL or Staged Completion for Familiarisation: Custom House station; Royal Oak, Victoria Dock, Pudding Mill Lane, North Woolwich and Plumstead Portals; and Fisher Street, Mile End, Limmo, Eleanor Street and Stepney Green Shafts.

All of our shafts and portals have now reached either full handover to TfL (eight assets) or are under Staged Completion for Familiarisation (two assets). 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 TfL to start familiarising itself with the asset. 

Farringdon station is our most advanced central London station with construction work at the station now substantially complete. Reaching this important milestone  allows the Tier 1 contractor to start demobilising from the site while final non-critical snagging works are completed.Underway. The station then enters a 12-week countdown, leading to the formal handover of the station from Crossrail to Transport for London (TfL) expected in spring 2021.

We are seeing good progress at Bond Street station since we took over direct responsibility for the remaining works, and it has now been certified as ready for Trial Running (SC1) and means that all central section stations are able to support the start of intensive operational testing next year. We are continuing in our efforts to get Bond Street ready for the opening of the central section but there remains considerable amount of work to do before it is ready to support the Trial Operations phase.

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.

The Crossrail programme is progressing assurance of the railway, which is required for entry into the Trial Running stage remains a priority. For further information, please visit our Assurance and Handover webpage.

 


OPERATIONAL READINESS

 

The full-length Class 345 trains (9 car units) are now operating on services out of Paddington and Heathrow. This is a significant milestone as it uses the ETCS signalling system and means that we continue to build mileage on the Class 345 fleet that will be used on the full Elizabeth line.

Operational and maintenance training has restarted, both using safe, social distancing procedures. TfL teams continue to work with Crossrail colleagues on handover of the shafts and portals, progressing the complex assurance including the digital asset data and preparing for the intensive Trial Running phase of the project.  

In preparation for taking on the remaining assets, training of signalling and maintenance staff continues in full compliance with the safe systems of work introduced in response to COVID-19.