When construction of Crossrail began in London in 2009 it was supposed to be open in December 2018. While the civil engineering and tunnelling went more or less as planned, delays have been caused by problems with the complex systems engineering.
Much of the remaining work involves hooking up, integrating and testing the completed infrastructure and railway systems along with the finalisation of the safety case to the Office of Rail & Road who will give the go-ahead to start trial running.
The Crossrail Ltd board met on 23rd July and heard from chief executive Mark Wild that the opening of the central section between Paddington and Abbey Wood next summer, as announced in January, was no longer achievable because of Covid-19-related delays.
Physical works on Crossrail sites was temporarily paused on 24th March as was dynamic testing in the tunnels. Physical activity on Crossrail sites resumed on 15th June and dynamic testing in the tunnels on 30th May. However, with social distancing guidance being observed, progress remains hampered.
Without more work on the recovery plan to re-sequence the remaining work, Crossrail’s executives are reluctant to suggest when the train service might actually open to the public.
Chief executive Mark Wild said: “Everyone working on the Crossrail project knows London needs the Elizabeth line more than ever and we are doing everything possible to deliver the railway as safely and as quickly as we can. We have a comprehensive plan to complete the railway but existing schedule pressure along with Covid-19 has impacted the programme and time has been lost. Further work is being undertaken to finalise our detailed recovery plan which re-sequences the remaining work.
“We are striving to commence intensive operational testing for the Elizabeth line, known as trial running, at the earliest opportunity. Our focus right now is on completing the remaining infrastructure works so that we can fully test the railway. Crossrail will undertake a period of intensive construction activity starting this August across the tunnels, portals and shafts to help recover lost time and complete the remaining construction works for trial running as we progress towards this next important phase.”