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Crossrail scheme ‘on track’ as last bit of railway is completed at Whitechapel

PUBLISHED: 14:14 14 September 2017 | UPDATED: 15:30 15 September 2017

Transport Minister Chris Grailing tightens the last rail clip at Whitechapel helped by London Assembly's Val Shawcross. Picture: Mike Brooke

Transport Minister Chris Grailing tightens the last rail clip at Whitechapel helped by London Assembly's Val Shawcross. Picture: Mike Brooke

Mike Brooke

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling put the last nail into Crossrail’s tracks in the new tunnel 150ft under Whitechapel as the final construction stage of the new Elizabeth Line was competed today.

Transport Minister Chris Grailing tightens the last rail clip at Whitechapel.Picture: Mike Brooke Transport Minister Chris Grailing tightens the last rail clip at Whitechapel.Picture: Mike Brooke

All that remains now for the £15 billion scheme is putting in the complex signalling system, finishing the stations and adding escalators and ticket halls ready for London’s ‘super tube’ Elizabeth line to open for passengers on December 18, 2018.

The opening date was revealed today when the minister arrived to turn the screw to tighten the last pin holding a track grip, watched by London Assembly’s deputy mayor for transport.

“This us a UK project, funded by money from the government and business rates,” Mr Grayling told the East London Advertiser.

“Brussels isn’t paying for any of this. There’s no cheque arriving from the EU. Brexit would have absolutely no effect on these projects.

Platform construction at Crossrail's Whitechapel interchange station. Picture: Mike Brooke Platform construction at Crossrail's Whitechapel interchange station. Picture: Mike Brooke

“It’s going to mean much better commuting for the people of east London which isn’t drawing resources from other parts of the country.”

The date for opening in 15 months time was revealed when Mr Grayling visited the Whitechapel construction site this-morning where the last bit of track was finished.

This is the government’s flagship project in attracting business to London, creating jobs which the minister says will “ripple across the UK”.

Passengers from Whitechapel will take just three minutes to reach Canary Wharf or Liverpool Street, 20 to the West End and 39 direct to Heathrow Airport.

Crossrail's Whitechapel station where tracking is now completed. Picture: Mike Brooke Crossrail's Whitechapel station where tracking is now completed. Picture: Mike Brooke

Part is already operating in the other direction after TfL took over the Liverpool Street-Shenfield service in 2015 which is being joined up to the Elizabeth line at Stratford next year.

But London Deputy Mayor Val Shawcroft admitted it wasn’t plain sailing. She revealed: “It had a difficult start because some Shenfield trains weren’t in great shape.

“It was never going to be easy, but it’s worth it for London’s future.”

Crossrail’s chairman Terry Morgan anticipates a challenge getting thr Elizabeth line ready in time. He feels sorry that it hasn’t been without disturbance to east London with years of street closures during construction.

Crossrail chairman at Whitechapel where track was completed.Picture: Mike Brooke Crossrail chairman at Whitechapel where track was completed.Picture: Mike Brooke

“Yes, we’ve been quite intrusive,” Mr Morgan admits. “My apology.

“We’ve tried to minimise the disruption as much as possible—but it will all be worthwhile when Londoners get this new railway.”

The twin tunnels, twice the diameter of the deep-level London Underground tunnels, will relieve the overcrowded Central line with 1,500 passengers to every train, almost double the traditional Tube trains and running 24 every hour peak time.

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