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Our Plan to Complete the Elizabeth Line

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The Elizabeth line remains on track to open in the first half of 2022.

The final phase of the programme, Trial Operations, is now underway and is the final step before passenger services can commence.

Trial Operations involves operational exercises to ensure the safety and reliability of the railway for public use and to fully test the timetables. More than 150 scenarios will be carried out over the coming months to ensure the readiness of the railway for passenger service.

It will take several months to complete Trial Operations. The Elizabeth line is an immensely complex railway and Trial Operations will continue until it is clear that the railway can operate at the highest levels of safety and reliability before the start of passenger services. Only then will a specific opening date for the railway be announced.

Significant progress has been made across the project with delivery of the Elizabeth line now in its final complex stages. Trial Running of trains through the central tunnels is well underway as part of the major railway trials taking place throughout this year, with 12 trains per hour in regular operation to build reliability and flush out any issues with our systems and signalling software. We have recently commissioned one of the last major software configurations for the railway and the final software upgrades will take place in December.

Eight of the ten new central section stations have now been commissioned and transferred to Transport for London and we are now focussed on the handover of Canary Wharf and completion of the remaining works at Bond Street.

The next couple of months will be important for the programme as we progress through Trial Operations, the final stage before opening the railway, but also as we continue to build greater resilience into the railway. There is a real desire from everyone involved in the project to continue to build on the strong performance and deliver this railway for passenger service in the first half of next year.


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 OPERATIONS

The final phase of the programme, Trial Operations is now underway. Trial Operations involves operational exercises to ensure the safety and reliability of the railway for public use and to fully test the timetables.

More than 150 scenarios will be carried out over the coming months to ensure the readiness of the railway for passenger service. These include exercises to make sure that all systems and procedures work effectively and staff can respond to any incidents, including customers being unwell or signal failures.

Trial Operations will also see organisations, including London Underground and Transport for London, MTR Elizabeth line, Network Rail and the emergency services all working together to respond to the trial scenarios.
A phased approach to Trial Operations has been adopted to build greater resilience into the railway and to allow for the earliest commencement of passenger services in 2022.
In early 2022, a series of more complex exercises will include evacuations of trains and stations. The final step will see a period of ‘shadow running’, operating timetabled services ahead of the Elizabeth line opening.

Visit the Trial Operations page to learn more.


TRIAL RUNNING

Trial Running with 12 trains per hour (tph) has continued to build reliability and flush out any issues with our systems and signalling software. We have also recently undertaken timetable demonstrations of 24 tph, the service frequency in the central section when the Elizabeth line is fully operational.
 

Trial Running of trains through the central tunnels began on 10 May as part of the major railway trials taking place throughout this year. The number of trains operating in the tunnels increased from four trains per hour in May to eight trains per hour in June and reached 12 trains per hour in July. This will be the initial level of service on the Elizabeth line when it enters passenger service in the first half of 2022.

These train movements are critical for increasing mileage across the network, supporting reliability growth of the railway and flushing out any issues with the systems and signalling software. The latest signalling software, ELR100, was commissioned during a two-week period in October. The commissioning period also allowed for the tunnel ventilation system (TVS) to be upgraded, as well as other key works to the rolling stock, signalling, and fleet rollout.
 
Before the end of the year, there will be further changes to the TVS to complete the functionality of the system software for passenger service. There will also be a smaller scale ELR110 signalling software update that will sweep up the remaining issues identified during Trial Running.

Visit our Trial Running page to learn more.


OPERATIONAL READINESS

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 operating on services in the west, from Reading and Heathrow to Paddington. We are currently transitioning the Class 345 fleet on the east, from Shenfield to Liverpool Street from seven-carriage to nine-carriage trains, a process that will be complete by the end of 2021.

The platform extensions at Liverpool Street mainline station were completed during the Easter blockade in 2021.

Learn more in our video about how we prepare to operate the Elizabeth line.


NEW CENTRAL LONDON 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. Abbey Wood is the tenth station in the central section and has been extensively redeveloped by Network Rail.

Eight Elizabeth line stations have now been transferred to TfL: Custom House, Farringdon, Tottenham Court Road, Woolwich, Liverpool Street, Paddington, Woolwich and Abbey Wood

Canary Wharf will be the next Elizabeth line station to be transferred to TfL, expected before the end of 2021. With the central section stations all now in an advanced state, Tier 1 contractors across the station sites are beginning to demobilise.

Bond Street station achieved its readiness to support Trial Operations on 8 October. This is a significant milestone for the station and for the wider programme. The team at Bond Street are now working on a plan to get the earliest opening date for the station. Possession of the oversite development and urban realm has also recently been handed to the developer.

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 Infrastructure (RFLI) is responsible for the maintenance of the central operating section.

London Underground are responsible for the 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.

Learn more about our stations here.


UPGRADED STATIONS IN THE EAST AND WEST

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31 of the 41 stations along the Elizabeth line route are on the surface rail network to the east and west. Upgrades to these stations are being carried out by Network Rail in preparation for the Elizabeth line services. These works are nearing completion.

Earlier station improvements included platform lengthening, improved customer information screens, signage, new ticket machines and CCTV. These works were necessary earlier in the project to enable the nine-carriage Class 345 trains to run on the east and west sections.

Additional works at stations by Network Rail and TfL have included the installation of lifts and new footbridges, which when complete will enable step-free access across the entire route.

A number of larger station improvements have been delivered throughout 2021, with new spacious and brightly lit ticket halls opening at Ealing Broadway, Southall, Hayes & Harlington and a new extension to the ticket hall at West Drayton. These have been complemented by toilet, waiting room and canopy improvements on the platform level.

TfL is carrying out improvement works at Burnham station on the west, separate from the Network Rail works, and this should be completed in the new year.

Enhanced station improvements at Ilford and Romford are progressing well. At Ilford, the station will benefit from a new spacious ticket hall and new lifts, and Romford station will benefit from a new entrance, lifts and an improved ticket hall. Lift cars are currently being installed at both sites. In addition, the ticket hall ceiling is being completed at Ilford and ticket vending machines are being installed at Romford. The stations are expected to be completed in early 2022.