The opening of the Elizabeth line’s new Old Oak Common depot has been marred by cost concerns over the £15bn project.
Although the first Elizabeth line services are still expected to be up and running in December this year, TfL confirmed there are still “significant cost and schedule pressures” threatening the project in board papers published this week.
The Old Oak Common site will eventually house a £1.3bn HS2 station, as it will be a major rail interchange. However, plans for a 7ha oversite development above the Elizabeth line depot, previously known as the Crossrail depot, have stalled.
Elizabeth line trains will be housed at the depot, which will be powered by a renewable energy system using three types of thermal temperature control, when TfL takes over the Heathrow Connect service between Paddington and Heathrow later this month. Elizabeth line trains will not run on the route until later this year after signalling problems were encountered during testing.
In March Crossrail chairman Sir Terry Morgan warned the project is “very close” to breaching its £14.8bn funding envelope.
Meanwhile Crossrail Ltd has come up with a “revised delivery schedule” to install new systems, such as ventilation and platform screen doors, and test the infrastructure before December when trains begin running from Paddington to Abbey Wood.
Although construction of Crossrail, known as the Elizabeth line, is 90% complete, design flaws and testing problems have put pressure on its delivery dates. Crossrail Ltd has previously stressed Elizabeth line will be delivered within its available funding and services will start running from December 2018 as planned.
Progress is being made on station fit-out and systems testing, and on 13 April full signal testing began in the tunnel section between Abbey Wood and Stepney Green,
TfL Rail and Elizabeth line operations director Howard Smith said: “It’s great to see the progress that has been made at Old Oak Common since work began four years ago.
“Our new depot will not only allow us to introduce our new TfL Rail service from Paddington to Heathrow Airport this month, but it will also be home to the new Elizabeth line train fleet. Old Oak Common will be vital in helping us to maintain our 70 brand new trains over the years to come.”
A spokesperson for Crossrail said: “The Elizabeth line is being delivered within its available funding. Overall the Crossrail project, which is now 90% complete, remains on time. Construction and fit-out of the new Elizabeth line stations and tunnels is advanced with intensive work underway. The infrastructure testing phase has commenced as we operate one train, and subsequently more, in the tunnel.
”From the summer, Crossrail will begin handing over the completed infrastructure to Transport for London for operational testing. However, there are some increasing cost and schedule pressures that Crossrail Ltd continues to manage and we have implemented a revised delivery schedule which prioritises delivery of systems including communications, ventilation and platform screen doors that are critical to the operational railway. The Elizabeth line remains on course to open as planned in December 2018.”