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. In spring 2021 the project reached the important milestone of transitioning into an operational environment and commencing timetabled train movements, with full length, nine-carriage trains under automatic control by the Communications Based Train Control signalling system in the Central Operating Section.
These movements are part of Trial Running, a period of integrated trials to test that the railway is safe and reliable. We have ramped up the numbers of trains running in the 42km of new tunnels built beneath London, and on the existing rail network to allow the railway and the supporting systems to be operated as close as possible to an operational timetable.
We’ve also connected the Central Operating Section to the Great Eastern and Great Western networks meaning that for the first time we have a fully joined-up railway, we have handed over more than half of the new Elizabeth line stations to Transport for London, and delivered improvements at surface stations. Achieving these milestones has given the project a stable platform to move forward and is consistent with our schedule to deliver the railway for passenger service in the first half of 2022.
We are resolute in our determination to open this railway in a safe way. Since transitioning to an operational environment, where the safety profile is very different to a construction environment, we have been focused on compliance and checking understanding of the changes in the ways of working. The project teams continue to have a healthy culture for reporting any incidents and all safety incidents that are reported are investigated, with the learnings shared throughout the organisation.
OPENING THE RAILWAY
The Elizabeth line will increase central London’s rail capacity by 10 per cent, the largest single increase in the capital’s transport capacity in more than 70 years. The railway is more than 100km long with new trains operating in 42km of new tunnel and track under central London, connecting 41 stations and bringing an additional 1.5million people within 45 minutes of London.
With new stations, infrastructure, tracks and trains, the Elizabeth line will be opened in phases to ensure the railway is reliable for customers. To date, the new Class 345 trains have been introduced by TfL on the existing lines from Reading and Heathrow to Paddington mainline station, and from Liverpool Street mainline station to Shenfield.
The biggest milestone will happen in the first half of 2022, when the Elizabeth line will launch a passenger service between Paddington and Abbey Wood Elizabeth line stations. In this initial phase, the existing TfL services, from Reading and Heathrow to Paddington mainline, and from Liverpool Street mainline to Shenfield, will continue in their current stopping pattern. This will mean that if you are travelling from Reading, Heathrow or Shenfield to a central London Elizabeth line station you will need to change at either Paddington or Liverpool Street mainline stations for the Elizabeth line until the next phase of the railway launches.
The next milestone is expected to be in autumn 2022 when services from Reading and Heathrow will operate through central London and access the new Elizabeth line central section stations to Abbey Wood. Services from Shenfield at this time will also serve the new central London stations, running through to Paddington Elizabeth line station.
The final milestone will be no later than May 2023 when the final timetable will be in place.
You can read more about how we are opening the railway here.
Trial Running is vital to unlocking the pathway to passenger service. It involves multiple trains operating in the Central Operating Section to demonstrate that the railway is capable of safely and reliably meeting the passenger capacity and performance levels necessary, whilst the final works to the stations are completed. This period helps us to identify and iron out any glitches or faults that may arise in software or systems before we progress to the next phase of the programme.
The initial phase of Trial Running saw the successful introduction of four timetabled trains per hour in operation on the Central Operating Section. This level of operation allowed the infrastructure manager, TfL, to undertake a number of activities to achieve full readiness. The number of trains has since increased to twelve trains per hour which is the same frequency as the initial passenger service starting in the first half of 2022.
Outstanding works have been scheduled into the programme and will take place during the Trial Running period. These works include a combination of project maintenance, snagging and enhancements and some testing and commissioning activity.
There will also be train signalling software upgrades during Trial Running - we will be uploading the passenger-quality software, known as ELR100 onto the signalling system for the new Central Operating Section. There will be a software blockade later in the year to allow for the ELR100 software release, which will be a major step towards launching the operational railway for revenue service. This software is the last major configuration before starting passenger service and is pivotal to the programme advancing through to Trial Operations.
Visit our Trial Running page to learn more.
The final stage of the programme is known as Trial Operations and will not start until the successful completion of Trial Running.
Trial Operations will involve exercises to confirm that the railway is passenger ready. It will comprise staff and volunteer exercises to make sure that all systems and procedures work effectively. Completion of Trial Operations will mark the final step before passenger services can commence in the first half of 2022.
Trial Operations will involve over 150 scenarios to ensure the safe, appropriate and effective response of the infrastructure and maintenance teams along with key partners, in particular London Underground, the operator MTR Elizabeth line and Network Rail.
These exercises will include a number of large-scale events to validate the emergency evacuation processes in our trains, tunnels, shafts and stations. This provides an opportunity for the railway operators and emergency services to hone their responses to scenarios resulting in major service disruption or incidents, such as loss of signalling and power or passenger evacuations.
Ahead of Trial Running commencing, the Great Western Main Line and Great Eastern Main Line were fully integrated with the Elizabeth line Central Operating Section to form an operational railway ready for trains to run across the entire route.
Full length, nine-carriage Class 345 trains are now operating on services in the west, from Reading and Heathrow to Paddington. This is a significant milestone as it uses the ETCS signalling system and means that we continue to build mileage and reliability of the Class 345 fleet.
The platform extensions at Liverpool Street mainline station were completed during the Easter blockade and we successfully commenced the first nine-carriage Class 345 trains between Liverpool Street and Shenfield in May. The transition of the Liverpool Street to Shenfield service to a full nine-carriage train operation (totalling 22 trains) will start in the autumn.
Learn more in our video about how we prepare to operate the Elizabeth line.
NEW CENTRAL LONDON STATIONS
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.
The challenge of handing over nine big and complex structures in one year is unprecedented, but both Crossrail and TfL are working closely together to support this.
Whitechapel is the latest Elizabeth line station to be handed over to TfL in August, joining Custom House, Farringdon, Tottenham Court Road, Woolwich, Liverpool Street and Paddington which were handed over earlier in the year.
Canary Wharf will be the next Elizabeth line station to be transferred over to TfL. As a result, works at this station is now primarily focused on the extensive testing and commissioning of systems ahead of the Elizabeth line opening. Reaching this important milestone allows the contractor to continue progressive demobilisation from the site.
Good progress is being made at Abbey Wood to integrate and test the Elizabeth line side of the station and at Bond Street we have taken direct responsibility for the remaining works and are continuing in our efforts to get the station ready for the opening of the Central Operating Section. Considerable work remains to do before the station is ready to support Trial Operations.
- Paddington (Costain Skanska Joint Venture): Handed over to Transport for London (TfL)
- Bond Street: Work underway to complete mechanical and electrical systems installation + testing & commissioning activities
- Tottenham Court Road (Laing O’Rourke): Handed over to Transport for London (TfL)
- Farringdon (Bam Ferrovial Kier Joint Venture): Handed over to Transport for London (TfL)
- Liverpool Street (Laing O’Rourke): Handed over to Transport for London (TfL)
- Whitechapel (Balfour Beatty Morgan Sindall Vinci Joint Venture): Handed over to Transport for London (TfL)
- 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): Handed over to Transport for London (TfL)
Although the new central stations are owned by TfL, the day to day operation and maintenance are managed by an Infrastructure Manager and Station Facility Operator. Rail for London Limited (RFLI) are responsible for the maintenance of the central section. London Underground are responsible for management of Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road, Farringdon, Liverpool Street and Whitechapel Elizabeth line stations. MTR Elizabeth Line, on behalf of Rail for London are responsible for Custom House, Paddington, Canary Wharf, Custom House and Woolwich Elizabeth line stations.
Lean more about our stations here.
NEW STATIONS IN THE EAST AND WEST
31 of the 41 stations along the Elizabeth line route are on the surface rail network to the east and west. Upgrades to stations have already been carried out by Network Rail in preparation for Elizabeth line services including platform lengthening to accommodate the nine-carriage trains, improved customer information screens, signage, new ticket machines and CCTV. A number of improvements including providing step-free accessibility, and new ticket halls remain underway.
The improvement works at Hayes & Harlington station were completed in September. The station upgrades include a new spacious ticket hall providing a more welcoming environment for passengers with a wide gateline, new ticket machines and customer information screens. A new footbridge and three new lifts provide step-free access to all five platforms at this station. At platform level improvements include a new waiting room, toilets and extended canopies.
In August, Southall station opened a brighter, more spacious station entrance with a new ticket hall constructed from glass and steel, including a wider gateline for tickets and contactless payments. There are also three new lifts and a new footbridge, which provide step-free access to all four platforms at the station.
West Drayton station opened a striking new glass and steel extension in July with new lifts enabling step-free access to the main platforms serving TfL Rail and Great Western Railway. These lifts will be complemented by an additional lift to the lesser-used platform 1, later in 2021, enabling the entire station to be step-free for the first time in its 183-year history. The station has also benefitted from platform extensions to accommodate the longer Elizabeth line trains, improved lighting, signage, customer information screens and canopies for the platforms.
The new ticket hall at Ealing Broadway station opened for customers in May with new lifts enabling step-free journeys on TfL Rail, London Underground (District and Central lines) and Great Western Railway. Ealing Broadway has undergone a significant transformation with a large new ticket hall, extended platforms to accommodate the longer Elizabeth line trains as well as signage improvements and customer information screens providing a better customer experience.
Work is also progressing on the eastern section at Ilford, which will benefit from a new spacious ticket hall and Romford which will benefit from a new entrance and a better ticket hall. They are both forecast to be completed and open before the start of the Elizabeth line service through the Central Operating Section.