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Crossrail bosses announce six-month window for opening date

Farringdon crossrail

Crossrail bosses have announced a six month window for the opening date of the Elizabeth line.

In the best case scenario the project will open in October 2020, while in the worst case scenario the project won’t open until March 2021.

Crossrail chief executive Mark Wild has been working on the revised timeline after the project missed its original opening date of December 2018. 

Wild 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.”

Crossrail Ltd confirmed that the “central section of the 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”. 

However, it also confirmed that Bond Street was unlikely to be opened inline with the other central section stations. 

“It is expected that all stations on the route will open in 2020 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,” a Crossrail spokesperson said.  

As revealed by New Civil Engineer, Crossrail bosses have been negotiating lump sum payments with its contractors to finish the work as quickly as possible.

Remaining work includes station fit-outs, with Bond Street Station some way behind the other nine central London stations. 

Crossrail identified four main tasks to carry out before the line can be opened. They include: 

  • Build and test the software to integrate the train operating system with three different signalling systems
  • Install and test vital station systems
  • Complete installation of the equipment in the tunnels and test communications systems
  • Trial run the trains over many thousands of miles on the completed railway to shake out any problems and ensure the highest levels of safety and reliability when passenger service begins

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 chairman Tony Meggs added: “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.”

Wild was drafted in to work on a revised schedule after the project missed its December 2018 opening date. It has also bust its budget by £2.8bn, taking the price of the project up to £17.6bn. 

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan used the revised timetable to have another dig at the former leadership team at Crossrail. Khan and former Crossrail chairman Sir Terry Morgan have been involved in a public spat over who was culpable for the delays and cost overrun to the project. 

He said: “I was deeply angry and frustrated when we found out about the delay to Crossrail last year. The information we had been given by the former Chair was clearly wrong.  We now have a new Crossrail leadership team who have worked hard over recent months to establish a realistic and deliverable schedule for the opening of the project, which TfL and the Department for Transport will now review.”   

Meanwhile, London Assembly transport committee chair Caroline Pidgeon said that she remains “frustrated” that no senior figures have taken responsibility for the delay. 

“We welcome this announcement with cautionary relief. However, the project has been pushed back twice already, so the question has to be asked – is the ‘six-month window’ a hedge-betting exercise to avoid disappointing passengers once more?,” Pidgeon said. 

“It is also incredibly frustrating that no senior executives will accept any responsibility for the litany of failures that have led to this delay.

“Londoners are forking out £30M a week to bring Crossrail to completion. Further delays and doubtful dates are simply not an option.”

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Readers' comments (2)

  • Philip Alexander

    I yearn for a return to liquidated damages for late completion. Although in Crossrail's case, they should be applied to the incompetent management team too!
    It seems that according to TfL, everyone and no-one is to blame for this monumental fiasco. And for the TfL Commissioner to have the brass neck to hang on to his job in order to continue to draw his £375,000 salary is just rubbing it in. And what's the chances of him and his well-paid team walking away with big bonuses on top, paid for of course by THE TAXPAYERS.
    The icing on the cake is giving a 6 month WINDOW for completion. They clearly have no idea what they ARE doing, have no idea of what they SHOULD be doing and no idea of what is needed to complete the works. This really is the definitive project out of control.
    Come on Parliament, do your job and get to the bottom of why this happened and hold those responsible to account. Start by cancelling any form of "performance related" (ho-ho) payments to staff on top of salaries.

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  • Philip, as ever I entirely agree with your comments, particularly 'reverse' LDs!!!!

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