Crossrail Ltd has told Transport for London that the dynamic testing of the digital signalling and train systems for the new Elizabeth line is proving more complicated than anticipated.
Transport for London is trying to negotiate an extra £650m from the Department for Transport to cover for the added cost of the new delay.
“Our latest assessment is that the opening of the central section will not occur in 2020, which was the first part of our previously declared opening window,” Crossrail chief executive Mark Wild said. “The Elizabeth line will open as soon as practically possible in 2021. We will provide Londoners with further certainty about when the Elizabeth line will open early in 2020.”
It was supposed to have opened in December 2018.
In April 2019, Crossrail Ltd outlined a revised plan to complete the outstanding works with an expected delivery window between October 2020 and March 2021 for the start of Elizabeth line services through central London. This has slipped.
The four major tasks that must be completed before the Elizabeth line can open are: build and test the software to integrate the train operating system with three different signalling systems; install and test station systems; complete installation of the equipment in the tunnels and test communications systems; and finally trial run the trains over many thousands of miles on the completed railway to shake out any problems.
It is the dynamic Testing of the signalling and systems that is taking longer to complete due to the number of issues that have to be addressed. Each new version of the train and signalling software increases functionality and the range of dynamic testing that can be undertaken, Crossrail said.
Chief executive Mark Wild said: “The Crossrail project has made good progress over recent months as the new plan to complete the Elizabeth line is implemented by the supply chain. A key focus during 2019 has been finalising the stations, tunnels, portals and shafts. By the end of the year, Custom House, Farringdon and Tottenham Court Road stations will be complete and the project is on track to finish fit-out of the tunnels in January. The central section will be substantially complete by the end of the first quarter in 2020, except for Bond Street and Whitechapel stations where work will continue.
“The two critical paths for the project remain software development for the signalling and train systems, and the complex assurance and handover process for the railway; both involve safety certification for the Elizabeth line. These must be done to the highest quality standards to ensure reliability of the railway from day one of passenger service.
“Crossrail Ltd will need further time to complete software development for the signalling and train systems and the safety approvals process for the railway. The Trial Running phase will begin at the earliest opportunity in 2020, this will be followed by testing of the operational railway to ensure it is safe and reliable.
“Our latest assessment is that the opening of the central section will not occur in 2020, which was the first part of our previously declared opening window. The Elizabeth line will open as soon as practically possible in 2021. We will provide Londoners with further certainty about when the Elizabeth line will open early in 2020.
"Our detailed cost forecasts continue to show that the project’s costs will increase due to programme risks and uncertainties. The latest projections indicate a range of between £400m to £650m more than the revised funding agreed by the Mayor, Government and Transport for London in December 2018.
“We are doing everything we can to complete the Elizabeth line as quickly as we can but there are no short-cuts to delivering this hugely complex railway. The Elizabeth line must be completed to the highest safety and quality standards.”
Earlier this week Crossrail released the following short video of the testing of the train and signalling system.