2022 will be a milestone year for Londoners, with the Elizabeth line set to open on Tuesday 24 May 2022.
The transformational railway will reduce journey times, create additional transport capacity, improve accessibility and provide a huge economic boost to the capital and beyond. With new stations and travel links, the Elizabeth line will support new housing and jobs across London, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Essex.
Significant progress was made towards completing the new railway over Christmas with planned upgrades taking place. The latest Siemens signalling software for the railway was commissioned along with the updated Alstom train software installed on trains. There were also upgrades to both the control communications system and the tunnel ventilation system.
Transport for London (TfL) has now started the next phase of its Trial Operations which will include large-scale exercises across the new railway in the coming months– a crucial step ahead of the Elizabeth line opening.
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.
Since May 2021, trains have been running through the tunnels to continue building up mileage and reliability ahead of the railway opening to passengers. This allows us to flush out any remaining issues with the systems and signalling software.
Canary Wharf, the penultimate Elizabeth line station has now been transferred to TfL. Nine of the ten new central section stations have now been commissioned and we are now focused on the completion of the works at Bond Street. Main contractors have demobilised from site at eight of the ten new central section stations.
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 May 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.
The final phase of the programme, Trial Operations is now underway. Trial Operations involves carrying out operational exercises to ensure the safety and reliability of the railway for public use and to fully test the timetables.
More than 150 scenarios are being carried out 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.
This phase involves a range of organisations, including TfL and London Underground, MTR Elizabeth line (as the operator), and Network Rail collaborating on the response to trial scenarios along with thousands of staff. Emergency services including the British Transport Police, London Fire Brigade and London Ambulance Service will also be involved, demonstrating how they would respond to incidents on the network and in stations.
As a result, there will be times where police, fire and ambulance service vehicles may be seen near stations, testing and simulating what would happen in the event their staff were required to attend.
Visit the Trial Operations page to learn more.
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 been undertaking 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 in May 2021 as part of the major railway trials taking place in preparation for the Elizabeth line. 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.
Visit our Trial Running page to learn more.
The final of the 70, Class 345 trains that will operate on the Elizabeth line was delivered in December 2021.
We have completed the upgrade of the fleet of trains operating services in the east, from Shenfield to Liverpool Street, from seven to nine carriages per train. Upgrades are ongoing on the trains in the west, operating services from Reading and Heathrow to Paddington, to extend them from seven to nine carriages. This process will complete later in 2022.
With nine of ten new stations commissioned and under the responsibility of TfL, the operational staff at these stations have been continuing their station familiarisation processes. This process is key to ensuring staff know every inch of their new station - from the lifts and escalators, gatelines and platforms, to the emergency exits – and are fully trained to respond to any incidents that may arise and are ready to welcome passengers when the Elizabeth line opens.
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. Abbey Wood is the tenth station in the central section and has been extensively redeveloped by Network Rail.
Nine Elizabeth line stations have now been transferred to the responsibility of TfL: Custom House, Farringdon, Tottenham Court Road, Woolwich, Liverpool Street, Paddington, Woolwich, Abbey Wood and Canary Wharf.
Bond Street Elizabeth line station achieved its readiness to support Trial Operations in October 2021 - a significant milestone for the station and for the wider programme. The team at Bond Street are working hard to open the station as early as possible, however, the opening of the railway will be independent of whether Bond Street station is available for use by passengers. Possession of the oversite development and urban realm was also transferred to the developer towards the end of 2021.
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
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 were 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 has completed improvement works at Burnham station on the west, separate from the Network Rail works, which include a new ticket hall with accessible ticket window, new ticket machines, automatic ticket gates and customer information screens. Outside the station is improved cycle parking.
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. Whilst carrying out station upgrade work at Ilford, Network Rail identified a damaged concrete slab in the concourse and are working with their contractor to resolve this. The stations are expected to be completed in early 2022.