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Trial Operations Explained

Trial Operations Explained

Trial Operations started in November 2021 and marked the final major phase in the Elizabeth line’s transition to an operational railway and the start of passenger services.


Trial Operations involved operational exercises being carried out to ensure the safety and reliability of the railway for public use, and to fully run the timetables.

More than 150 real-life scenarios were carried out to ensure the readiness of the railway for passenger service. Trial Operations built on the reliability demonstrated during Trial Running and included 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. During this period, timetabled services at 12 trains per hour (tph) continued to build reliability on the central section of the railway.

Collaboration is key to operating the Elizabeth line and these exercises focused on key operational scenarios that demonstrated how we can safely and effectively communicate between a number of organisations, including London Underground and Transport for London, MTR Elizabeth Line, Network Rail and the emergency services. The exercises didn't just trial how we respond to operational issues, but how we fix them and recover the service.

A series of more complex exercises took place in early 2022 including evacuations of trains and stations using thousands of staff volunteers as passengers. To ensure we had a fair representation of the future passengers who will use the Elizabeth line we included a mix of volunteers including people with disabilities and mobility impairments - from people requiring aids to walk, to wheelchair users, those with hidden disabilities and guide dog users. We also worked with these users to capture their feedback after the trials.

Some of the exercises included involvement from other emergency services including London Fire Brigade, London Ambulance Service and British Transport Police. The results helped to refine plans and ensure that we can perform evacuations not just safely, but also efficiently.

Trial Operations Explained


The Elizabeth line is an immensely complex railway and Trial Operations continued until it was clear the new railway could operate at the highest levels of safety and reliability. Only after this clarity was reached was the opening date was announced. 

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