The new team in charge of ensuring Crossrail opens as quickly as possible has provided a six-month opening window with the earliest date in October 2020 and the latest March 2021.
The central section of London’s beleaguered rail scheme was due to open in December 2018 but “many risks and uncertainties in the development and testing of the train and signalling systems” has stalled progress and meant commuters in the capital have been left short-changed.
All stations on the route will open simultaneously except for Bond Street which is delayed because of “design and delivery challenges”. No official opening has been published for the central station but Crossrail say it is working closely with Costain Skanska JV to ensure the station is “ready to open at the earliest opportunity”.
The central section of the Elizabeth line will open between Paddington and Abbey Wood and link the West End, the City of London, Canary Wharf and southeast London with initially 12 trains per hour during the peak.
Once the central section opens, senior management say full services across the Elizabeth line from Reading and Heathrow in the west to Abbey Wood and Shenfield in the east, “will commence as soon as possible”.
The new plan has required identifying and re-sequencing over 100,000 interdependent tasks. While those behind the scheme say remaining fit-out work and systems installation in the stations and tunnels will be completed this year.
Crossrail Ltd said that there are four major tasks still to be completed:
- Build and test the software to integrate the train operating system with three different signalling systems
- Install and test vital station systems
- Complete installation of the equipment in the tunnels and test communications systems
- Trial run the trains over many thousands of miles on the completed railway to shake out any problems
Mark Wild, chief executive of Crossrail Ltd said he “shared the frustration of Londoners” but was adamant that the revised schedule got the project back on track.
He added: “Crossrail is an immensely complex project and there will be challenges ahead particularly with the testing of the train and signalling systems but the Elizabeth line is going to be incredible for London and really will be worth the wait. This new plan will get us there and allow this fantastic new railway to open around the end of next year.”
Tony Meggs, chairman of Crossrail Ltd, on behalf of the board, promised to hold leadership to account and insisted they would be “open and transparent” about progress in the future.
While the mayor of London Sadiq Khan once again took a swipe at former chair Sir Terry Morgan for misinforming him on progress. “I was deeply angry and frustrated when we found out about the delay to Crossrail last year, Khan said. "The information we had been given by the former chair was clearly wrong.
“We now have a new Crossrail leadership team who have worked hard over recent months to establish a realistic and deliverable schedule for the opening of the project, which TfL and the Department for Transport will now review. Crossrail is a hugely complex project. With strengthened governance and scrutiny in place, TfL and the Department for Transport, as joint sponsors, will continue to hold the new leadership to account to ensure it is doing everything it can to open Crossrail safely and as soon as possible.”