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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. 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 will steadily ramp 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 a third 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.

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TRIAL RUNNING

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 will gradually increase, from four, to eight to twelve trains per hour, which will be the same as when passenger services start in the first half of 2022.

Outstanding works have been scheduled into the programme and will take place during the Trial Running period. There is a three-week period for construction work, focussed on stations and routeway, planned for the end of June that will help mitigate pressures to the Trial Operations schedule. 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. 

Learn more about Trial Running here.


TRIAL OPERATIONS

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. 


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 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. 

Learn more about the challenges of building a railway with multiple signalling systems here.


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. 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.  

Tottenham Court Road was the next Elizabeth line station to be handed over to TfL in May, joining Custom House and Farringdon which were handed over earlier in the year. Farringdon and Tottenham Court Road are the first two stations which have been handed over to London Underground as the infrastructure manager, following successful completion of testing and integration work.

Woolwich, Liverpool Street and Paddington will be the next Elizabeth line stations to be transferred over to TfL. As a result, works at these 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 continue progressive demobilisation from the site.

Work continues at the remaining central section stations, and we are making good progress. 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): Testing & commissioning + assurance handover activities
  • 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): Testing & commissioning activities + assurance handover activities
  • Whitechapel (Balfour Beatty Morgan Sindall Vinci Joint Venture): Work underway to complete mechanical and electrical systems installation + testing & commissioning activities
  • 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

Lean more about our stations here.


NEW 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 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 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. The latest station to reach this milestone ahead of the Elizabeth line opening, 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.

West Drayton, Hayes & Harlington, and Southall stations remain on forecast to be step-free by the Summer of 2021. 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.