A new plan to complete the outstanding works and bring the Elizabeth line into passenger service at the earliest possible has been developed by the new Crossrail leadership team. This provides Londoners with a realistic and achievable plan to complete the Elizabeth line.
The high-level plan to complete the railway has progressed into a logically linked and detailed Delivery Control Schedule.
This is the most difficult and challenging phase of the programme with significant integration and testing to complete.
The two critical paths for the project remain software development for the signalling and train systems, and the complex assurance and handover process for the railway; both involve safety certification for the Elizabeth line.
These must be done to the highest quality standards to ensure reliability of the railway from day one of passenger service.
Crossrail Ltd will need further time to complete software development for the signalling and train systems and the safety approvals process for the railway. The Trial Running phase will begin at the earliest opportunity in 2020, this will be followed by testing of the operational railway to ensure it is safe and reliable.
Our latest assessment is that the opening of the central section will not occur in 2020, which was the first part of our previously declared opening window. The Elizabeth line will open as soon as practically possible in 2021. We will provide Londoners with further certainty about when the Elizabeth line will open early in 2020.
Central Section Progress
Each Elizabeth line station has over 50 km of communications cabling, 200 CCTV cameras, 66 information displays, 200 radio antennas, 750 loudspeakers and 50 help points. All this technology needs to be fully installed, tested and integrated.
A key focus during 2019 has been finalising the stations, tunnels, portals and shafts.
By the end of the year, Custom House, Farringdon and Tottenham Court Road stations will be complete and the project is on track to finish fit-out of the tunnels in January. The central section will be substantially complete by the end of the first quarter in 2020, except for Bond Street and Whitechapel stations where work will continue.
At Bond Street and Whitechapel stations we now have high productivity and a clear path to completion. Whitechapel station has reached the Staged Completion 1, which is a significant achievement for the programme. This means that Whitechapel has reached a sufficient level of completion to support entry into Trial Running in 2020 and will support the creation of a standardised requirements checklist which will be implemented across all stations.
Significant work has also taken place within the tunnel to support our readiness for Trial Running. The central section of the Elizabeth line has been connected to the GSM-R – the national railway radio system – the London Fire Brigade has assured the public address system which is now in use in the majority of the tunnel.
Our key challenge remains the volume of handover assurance and documentation required to bring these assets into passenger operation. Nearly 200,000 documents need to be completed as part of the assurance and handover process and safety certification for the Elizabeth line.
Main Dynamic Testing
Dynamic Testing of the trains in the tunnels remains underway using 4 x class 345 trains. A key purpose of testing is to identify and fix any software bugs in the train control system and to make sure everything works as planned.
Testing currently takes place for four days each week and the latest Siemens software configuration, PD+10, was installed in the central tunnels in early October as planned and valuable reliability and functional testing continues whilst we await the next configuration.
Each new version of the software increases functionality and the range of Dynamic Testing that can be undertaken.
The software version PD+11 is still anticipated to be the version used for the start of Trial Running, however the development of PD+12 is now well underway to minimise any potential impact on the schedule should it be required for Trial Running.
Transport for London’s maintenance team has taken responsibility for Victoria Dock Portal and Pudding Mill Lane Portal following successful handovers from Crossrail. TfL is preparing for the handover of the next elements, currently expected to be Mile End shaft and Custom House station.
The new maintenance team, based at the maintenance depot in Plumstead, has been providing track inspection support which enables them to become more familiar with the assets and locations prior to becoming the infrastructure manager. Whilst further training is being carried out for Traffic Managers to allow sufficient flexibility to operate the railway.
TfL and MTR-Elizabeth line will start operating stopping services from Paddington mainline station to Reading from 15 December this year under the TfL Rail brand.
When the services are first introduced, full-length (nine-car) trains will not yet be available as software updates will need to be implemented and tested. As a result, the service will start with seven-car units. Even with these shorter trains, customers will still benefit from greater capacity than the existing services that operate on the route. The full-length units will be the introduced as soon as possible.
Network Rail has completed the remaining CCTV works with all certification to support handover to Rail for London now submitted and under review to enable delivery of TfL Rail services to Reading.
The final platform extension at Maidenhead is now complete (following West Drayton and Slough) with a plan to bring the platforms into use in late November 2019. Key construction works will be undertaken over the Christmas period as part of the Station Enhancement works on the west of the route.
Station enhancements works at Ilford and Romford continue and are expected to complete in December 2020.
Photo credit: Crossrail