Crossrail Ltd has confirmed that the much-delayed cross-London link may not open until March 2021 – and will still not be fully operational at that point.
The Crossrail Ltd Board has agreed a new plan to complete the outstanding works and bring what will be known as the Elizabeth line into passenger service ‘at the earliest possible date’.
A Crossrail test train
It said that, as many risks and uncertainties remain in the development and testing of the train and signalling systems, it has identified a six-month delivery window with a midpoint at the end of 2020.
The central section works are expected to be delivered within the increased funding package agreed between mayor Sadiq Khan and the Government last December, Crossrail said.
Chief executive Mark Wild said: '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.'
Mr Khan said: ‘With strengthened governance and scrutiny in place, Transport for London 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.’
The central section of the Elizabeth line will open between Paddington and Abbey Wood and link the West End, the City, Canary Wharf and south east London, with 12 trains per hour during the peak initially.
Crossrail said it expects that ‘all stations on the route will open except for Bond Street which is delayed because of design and delivery challenges’.
It said that as work proceeds it will be providing regular progress reports, and ‘increasingly specific estimates’ of when the line will open.
It has put in place a new visual management system to monitor progress by contractors and their supply chains ‘so that issues are addressed as quickly as possible’.
Four major tasks need 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
- when this is done, trial run the trains over many thousands of miles on the completed railway
Crossrail said expects that the remaining fit-out and systems installation in the stations and tunnels will be completed this year, allowing the new stations and rail infrastructure to be integrated with the rest of the railway.
It said it also expects that Bombardier Transportation and Siemens will complete development of the train and signalling software this year, ‘allowing the train control system to be fully tested’.