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Crossrail on course for summer 2021 opening



Crossrail Ltd has confirmed that the 21km central underground section of the Elizabeth Line between Paddington and Abbey Wood in central London will finally open in summer 2021 and the cost of the project will not exceed the additional funding agreed in December 2019.

Crossrail says this latest forecast is based on current progress with completing software development for the signalling and train systems along with the safety assurance system for the railway, which is required ahead of the start of intensive testing in the autumn.

Following the opening of the central section, full Elizabeth Line services between Reading and Heathrow in the west via the central section to Shenfield in the east will commence in mid-2022. MTR, using TfL Rail-branded services, began operating stopping services between Reading and Paddington on December 15 and between Liverpool Street and Shenfield in June 2017.

Crossrail agreed additional funding of £400-650m for the project in November 2019, on top of the additional £590m agreed in July 2018 and £2.15bn in December 2018, increasing the budget to over £18bn. This compares to the original £14.8bn budget, which the company claimed the project was on course to meet 18 months before its scheduled opening in December 2018.

TfL expects to lose £1.3bn in income from passengers as a result of the two-and-a-half-year delay to the project.

“We have a comprehensive plan to complete the Elizabeth Line and the milestones we must hit during 2020, including the testing of the signalling and train systems and safety assurance, but there are no shortcuts to delivery of this hugely complex railway,” says Mr Mark Wild, chief executive of Crossrail Ltd.

Crossrail says the central section is on course for substantial completion by the end of the first quarter except for Bond Street and Whitechapel stations where work is set to continue until the end of 2020. All physical work is complete in the tunnels, shafts and portals and fitting out is nearing completion at all other stations.

Intensive testing will involve the operation of multiple trains in tunnels to simulate the Elizabeth Line’s timetable. The final stage of testing will involve passenger trials to test real-time service scenarios.

“We continue to make good progress with the central section now reaching substantial completion and we are increasingly confident that Bond Street station will be ready to open with the rest of the railway,” Wild says

Construction on the project, which at one time was Europe’s largest infrastructure project, began in 2009.




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