Jill is a practised culture & current affairs writer, editor and soon to be NCTJ-qualified journalist.
The Transport for London’s (TfL) Crossrail Ltd project for the Elizabeth Line is now expected to be ready for passenger service by mid 2022, almost four years behind schedule. The current delay was brought about by the coronavirus pandemic which caused such disruption to TfL’s revenue that it required a government funded bail-out. Now the project faces further uncertainty for completion with its budget having increased by £2.8 billion.
The project plans to deliver nine new Elizabeth Line stations under Crossrail including Paddington, Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road, Farringdon, Liverpool Street, Whitechapel, Canary Wharf, Custom House and Woolwich. The work started in 2008 at an original budget of £15.9 billion and currently sits on £18.7 billion. On March 17, TfL commissioner, Andy Byford, revealed that he is trying to persuade the government’s Department for Transport to give the project between £950 m and £1.1 billion. So far, £825 m has been offered but an agreed deal needs to be reached by the end of March.
However, the project is continuing in its final stages with milestones such as “trial running” scheduled. This is where a limited number of trains drive through tunnels that were dug six years ago to test the timetable and build reliability. These tunnels are known as the “central section” between Paddington and Abbey Wood. Outstanding work prior to this was successfully completed due to frequent travel “construction blockages” in London through September, November and the festive period which allowed for productivity, the Crossrail website states.
This intensive operational testing is due to commence in Spring 2021 and includes a final phase known as “trial operations”. This involves inviting people onto trains and stations to test real-time service situations to ensure the railway is ready to go. Other infrastructure to be completed includes complete dynamic testing of signalling and train systems to a full safety and assurance process with regulatory approval from the Office of Rail and Road.
Some major projects have been completed so far including both Farringdon and Custom House stations, portals for the train line to emerge above ground at Royal Oak, Victoria Dock, Pudding Mill Lane, North Woolwich and Plumstead, and shafts in Fisher Street, Mile End, Limmo, Eleanor Street and Stepney Green. Each Elizabeth Line station has 200 CCTV cameras, 66 information displays, 750 loudspeakers, 50 help points and more on average that need to be “fully installed, tested and integrated”, Crossrail states.
Tottenham Court Road station is expected to be completed in late May, followed by Paddington with Bond Street likely to be the final section handed over to TfL. In his monthly London Assembly update in January, Crossrail chief executive, Mark Wild, said that Bond Street may have to open after the other stations along the central section.
Full services across the project including Reading and Heathrow in the west, to Abbey Wood and Shenfield in the east, will be introduced in alignment with the National Rail timetable change occurring in May and December.
To stay up to date, visit the Crossrail website: https://www.crossrail.co.uk/project/our-plan-to-complete-the-elizabeth-line/#