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Crossrail service to Reading on track for December opening

Crossrail train

Crossrail bosses have confirmed that the western section of the Elizabeth line will begin running trains in December this year.

A letter signed by Crossrail chairman Tony Meggs and deputy chairman Nick Raynsford confirms that the service from Paddington to Reading will begin running Elizabeth line trains from December.

It means that the western section is likely to begin operating before the central London section of the line.TfL Rail services already operate from Paddington to Hayes and Harlington and Heathrow. 

Crossrail bosses are expected to deliver a revised timeline for the central section of the route by the end of this month, however, Crossrail chief executive Mark Wild has previously stated that he does not “think there is any chance of it opening in 2019”. 

The route was originally scheduled to open in December 2018 but problems with station fit-outs and dynamic testing have led to the delay and a £2.8bn cost overrun

In the letter, sent to Windsor and Maidenhead council leader Simon Dudley, Meggs and Raynsford confirm that Crossrail is “working with Network Rail and the Train Operating Companies to introduce TFL Rail services between Reading and Paddington in December this year”.

They add: “This will mean new class 345 Elizabeth line trains operating under TfL Rail services from Maidenhead into Paddington in the east and Reading in the west.”

The western section of the line was originally scheduled to open in May 2018, but construction was delayed in 2017.

It is understood that 90% of upgrades to existing Network Rail stations are now complete, with main outstanding work on station building upgrades. 

Contractors are yet to be appointed at three Network Rail stations – Acton Main Line, West Ealing and Ealing Broadway – which all require upgrades to bring them up to the Crossrail standard and provide step-free access.

Last month, Network Rail strategy and planning director (south) Rupert Walker told the Commons transport select committee that the track operator was reviewing bids and one would be appointed “very, very shortly”.

He went on to say that this was “on time and in the context with what we said we’ll achieve by the end of next year”. 

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