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Sat August 17 2019

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Crossrail to open by March 2021 but without Bond Street station

26 Apr Crossrail’s new leadership team has produced a new plan to get the delayed project finished and start rail operations under central London sometime between October 2020 and March 2021.

Testing times for Crossrail
Testing times for Crossrail

But trains will not be stopping at Bond Street as Costain Skanska’s £110m contract for the new station there continues to face particular challenges and still has no specified completion date.

Because of the risks and uncertainties inherent in the development and testing of the train and signalling systems, Crossrail Ltd has identified a six-month delivery window with a midpoint at the end of 2020.

The central section of the £17.6bn Elizabeth line will open between Paddington and Abbey Wood and link the West End, the City of London, Canary Wharf and southeast London with initially 12 trains per hour during the peak by March 2021.

Once the central section opens, full services across the Elizabeth line from Reading and Heathrow in the west to Abbey Wood and Shenfield in the east will start “as soon as possible”, Crossrail said.

It was supposed to have opened in December 2018.

In its latest progress update, Crossrail said: “It is expected that all stations on the route will open except for Bond Street which is delayed because of design and delivery challenges. Crossrail Ltd is working closely with Costain Skanska Joint Venture to ensure the station is ready to open at the earliest opportunity.”

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There are four major tasks that must be completed:

  • 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
  • Trial run the trains.

Dynamic testing of the trains in the tunnels is now under way with work to increase the reliability of the train software to enable trains to operate across the three signalling systems on the Elizabeth line. Trains have been operating at line speed (100 km/h) in the central section using the new automatic signalling system and multi-train testing will soon begin.

Crossrail expects that the remaining fit-out and systems installation in the stations and tunnels will be completed this year. This will allow the new stations and rail infrastructure to be integrated with the rest of the railway. Crossrail also expects that Bombardier Transportation and Siemens will complete development of the train and signalling software this year allowing the train control system to be fully tested.

Crossrail chief executive Mark Wild, appointed to the job in November 2018, said: “I share the frustration of Londoners that the huge benefits of the Elizabeth line are not yet with us. But this plan allows Crossrail Ltd and its contractors to put the project back on track to deliver the Elizabeth line. Crossrail is an immensely complex project and there will be challenges ahead particularly with the testing of the train and signalling systems but the Elizabeth line is going to be incredible for London and really will be worth the wait. This new plan will get us there and allow this fantastic new railway to open around the end of next year.”

Chairman Tony Meggs said: “Both the Crossrail board and the Crossrail leadership team fully recognise the seriousness of the challenges we face. The Crossrail board is pleased with the progress by the new Crossrail leadership team to get a grip on the project and pull together a robust and realistic plan to complete the Elizabeth line. An enhanced governance structure has been put in place to strengthen the Crossrail programme. The Crossrail board will be holding the leadership team to account as they work to complete the railway. We will be open and transparent about our progress and will be providing Londoners and London businesses with regular updates as we seek to rebuild trust with all our stakeholders.”

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