Crossrail: TfL confirms further delays to troubled line’s opening

PUBLISHED: 07:00 07 January 2020 | UPDATED: 10:58 07 January 2020

The opening date for Crossrail - which will be known as the Elizabeth line - has been delayed further. Picture: Catherine Davison

The opening date for Crossrail - which will be known as the Elizabeth line - has been delayed further. Picture: Catherine Davison


Crossrail will not open until the end of next year, Transport for London has confirmed - with the Liverpool Street to Shenfield section taking a further six months to join up.

Mike Brown, TfL's commissioner, told the London Assembly's budget and performance committee it was working to a business planning assumption of opening the central section between September and December 2021.

The eastern branch, running from Liverpool Street to Shenfield, is expected to connect in May 2022, and the western section from Paddington to Heathrow and Reading in December 2022.

The route, to be known as the Elizabeth line, was originally set to open in December 2018.

Mr Brown told the committee on Monday, January 6: "What wasn't envisaged was the scale of unfinished and incomplete work on the stations, and also on the wayside equipment, things like the integration of all the digital systems.

"A bit like a house that looks complete, if you wandered round the stations as I did this time last year, these stations looked complete.

"A few months later I went back to the stations and tiles had to be taken away, platforms had to be opened up because some of the equipment that should have been installed simply wasn't there."

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He added: "There were problems with the integration of the train and the signalling system, but the most pressing problem, before you could even get into the full testing, is that the stations weren't ready and the trackside wasn't ready. We were still building in the tunnel."

On the signalling systems, he said: "It's not all perfect, and you don't know until you start running a number of trains alongside each other in close proximity to each other.

"I'm thinking by June, they'll be in a position to enter into the trial running phase. The whole point of that phase is you then have a significant ramp up in the number of trains you're running in the tunnel section and it is inevitable further issues will emerge at that time."

The industry standard for trial running, the meeting was told, was nine to 12 months.

A TfL spokesman said: "The Crossrail team continues to make progress completing the railway and is moving forward with the complex testing of the signalling and train systems so that the railway can be handed over safely and reliably for passenger service. As Crossrail Ltd previously announced, the Elizabeth line will open as soon as practically possible in 2021.

"As part of our annual business planning process, we have made some prudent assumptions including that the central section of the railway could open in autumn 2021, but continue to support Crossrail Ltd in delivering the railway as soon as possible. Crossrail Ltd continue to refine their delivery schedule and will provide an update in the coming weeks."

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