Crossrail hands over new Whitechapel station to TfL
- Credit: Mike Brooke
The new Elizabeth line station at Whitechapel has been formally handed over to Transport for London (TfL) by Crossrail ready for passengers in 2022, with trains test-running three years late.
Up to 12 trains an hour are operating in both directions, stopping at Whitechapel and other stops along the line, but not for passengers just yet.
There are still teething problems, such as the sliding safety barrier doors not quite aligned to the doors on the trains that pull in.
"That's the classic bug or defect," Crossrail's chief executive Mark Wild told the East London Advertiser. "It’s a simple thing to fix, but you only find that out when you test run trains.
"The door-stopping accuracy is what we’re testing at the moment, with fine-tuning and tweaks. But there are many of those which all have to be ‘just right’ because it’s going to take 250million passengers a year."
The £18billion project, which was initially set to open by 2018, hit buffers in 2017 after the tracks were completed. The stations were not ready with less than 12 months to go and the signalling system had to be scrapped, as well as major powering problems, adding £2bn to the first estimated cost.
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Mark, who was chief executive of TfL, was sent to take over at Crossrail to get the project back on track.
"It was fundamentally a lack of understanding," he revealed. "We are three years down the line when this should have been completed.
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"Fundamentally, finishing by 2018 was underestimating the effort needed — lots of lessons to learn. We don’t talk of specific 'end dates' now, with the dangers of uncertainty. We’ll open in the first half of 2022.
"The final system integration won’t be untill October."
The platforms are much longer than London Underground stations, enough to take nine carriages, with up to 24 trains an hour in each direction during peak times.
The station handover was timed for the opening of a new ticket hall serving the District, Hammersmith and City and Overground lines, joined next year by the deep-level Elizabeth line 90ft below ground.
London Underground managing director Andy Lord said: “Our staff have already been getting acquainted with the facilities.
"This station incorporates the Victorian entrance and has a green roof to boost biodiversity.”
Getting to Heathrow airport from Whitechapel direct on the Elizabeth line will take just 34 minutes, or 39 minutes from Canary Wharf one stop east.
But the line will initially run just to Paddington, where passengers can change for Heathrow or Reading, or change at Liverpool Street for trains to Shenfield. The full end-to-end integrated service is set to follow later.
Whitechapel is the seventh handover from Crossrail, after Custom House, Liverpool Street, Farringdon, Tottenham Court Road, Woolwich and Paddington. Canary Wharf is the next station set to transfer to TfL later this year.