Essential and business critical work has been continuing across the programme, physical works on sites have now resumed and Dynamic Testing of the train control systems in the tunnels has recommenced. Crossrail sites are fully compliant with the latest guidance from Public Health England. Sites are observing strict social distancing protocols and the numbers of people at each location is limited at all times.
Around 1,500 people are now working on site across the central section – this represents around one-third of the numbers who were working on site prior to the temporary pause of physical activity in March.
Before an individual is able to return to site, they must complete a return to work questionnaire to identify whether they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms of if they fall into a vulnerable category such as a pre-existing health condition.
We are reviewing and re-structuring works that are essential to opening the railway and to ensure we complete the Elizabeth line in the most effective and efficient way. A plan has been developed to optimise works and recover the time lost to enable entry into intensive operational testing, known as Trial Running, safely, reliably, and at the earliest opportunity.
Below are some examples of the measures in place across our sites to ensure social distancing guidelines are met:
- Total workforce numbers limited to ensure a safe number of operatives on site. The limitation of workforce numbers on site varies for each location due to differing site layouts and the types of work being carried out.
- Delivery of COVID-19 briefings at the start of each shift.
- Workers travelling to site are encouraged to avoid the use of public transport where at all possible.
- Temperature checks at site entrance.
- Creation of one-way systems to help workers navigate around sites whilst adhering to social distancing measures.
- Staggered shifts and breaks (shift start, finish and break times vary from site to site) to maintain social distancing on site and also to enable workers to avoid busy periods on public transport when there is no alternative to getting to site.
- Use of signage to reinforce COVID-19 measures around sites.
- Reconfiguration of existing changing facilities to restrict the numbers using an individual changing room. Office space has been converted to provide additional welfare and changing/locker rooms.
- Enhanced cleaning in the welfare, office and other common areas, between shifts and changeovers - additional cleaners have been deployed across the project with touch points being cleaned between day and night shifts and between staggered welfare breaks.
In the event that certain jobs require close proximity working, risk assessments are carried out in order to eliminate, reduce, isolate and control any risks.
These assessments are in line with the Construction Leadership Council’s Hierarchy of Controls.
Through the adoption of these new ways of working, we are able to continue vital pieces of work which will allow Trial Running to commence later this year. To start Trial Running, Crossrail needs to complete these remaining key steps:
- All central section stations certified as ready to support Trial Running
- Complete handover of the shafts and portals to Transport for London (TfL)
- Complete Dynamic Testing of the signalling and train systems
- Handover the completed Routeway to TfL
- Complete the safety and assurance process for the Elizabeth line and obtain regulatory approval from the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) to commence Trial Running.
Despite significant challenges, our focus remains on doing everything we can to open the central section between Paddington and Abbey Wood in summer 2021 or sooner. From the start of Trial Running it will then require an extended period 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 train and stations to test real-time scenarios.