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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, an 11-day blockade in November and a further blockade over the festive period. The construction blockades have been 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.

Across the programme, our controlled delivery environment - on site and in the office – continues with daily tracking of resource affected and frequent reviews of policy to ensure alignment to Transport for London, Public Health England and industry best practice in order to limit the spread of COVID-19.

We expect to commence extensive railway commissioning in spring 2021. The next phase, Trial Running, involves multiple trains operating in the central operating section to test the timetable and build reliability, while the final works to the stations are completed. It will 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. 


CRL Key Steps to Trial Running

Crossrail is working to ensure that the programme is ready to commence the Trial Running phase at the earliest opportunity in 2021. 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

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 reliably meeting the capacity and other requirements, whilst the final works to the stations are completed.

The initial phase of Trial Running will see a limited number of trains in operation on the central operating section to allow the infrastructure manager, TfL, to undertake a number of activities to achieve full readiness. The number of trains will gradually increase before further activities such as timetable operation, timetable demonstrations and integration testing can be undertaken.

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 four train signalling software upgrades during Trial Running and time has been allocated in the Trial Running programme for each to be tested as appropriate and deployed.

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.


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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.


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): Testing & commissioning + assurance handover activities commissioning activities + final fit-out
  • Bond Street: Heavy mechanical and electrical systems installation + start of testing & commissioning activities
  • Tottenham Court Road (Laing O’Rourke): Testing & commissioning + assurance handover activities
  • Farringdon (Bam Ferrovial Kier Joint Venture): Handed over to Transport for London (TfL)
  • Liverpool Street (Laing O’Rourke): Testing & commissioning activities + 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. Twelve of the 30 big engineering structures have now reached full handover to TfL: Farringdon and Custom House stations; 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 full handover to TfL (twelve assets).

There is now a full complement of central section stations having reached the Staged Completion 1 (SC1) Enactment state after Paddington achieved this milestone last month. This means all central section stations now have their assets assured and certified as ready to support Trial Running.

Custom House, the first of our central section stations to be handed over to TfL, is in the final stages of testing and will shortly be integrated into the network. Farringdon station has become the second of the new Elizabeth line stations to be handed over to TfL and the first to London Underground as infrastructure manager, following successful completion of testing and integration work.

Tottenham Court Road and Paddington stations are both less than 12 weeks away from being handed over to TfL, with Tottenham Court Road expected to be handed over in early May. This follows both stations achieving their T-12 landmark in February. As a result, works at the stations are 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 commence demobilisation across the site and enables Crossrail to start the process of handing the station over to TfL.

Works to achieve a number of additional interim states of completion in order to support Trial Operations and entry into revenue service also continue, with five station having achieved their Substantial Completion 3 (SC3), marking the substantial completion of construction works.

Work continues on completing the works at our central station sites. We are seeing good progress at Bond Street station since we took over direct responsibility for the remaining works. 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.


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.