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Central section of Crossrail could launch by end of 2020

Kieran Bell

Central London Crossrail launch delayed

Crossrail bosses have outlined plans to complete the Elizabeth Line's central London section 'at the earliest possible date', with the end of 2020 highlighted as a possible target.

TfL trains are scheduled to run from Reading to London Paddington - through Maidenhead and Slough - from December 2019 with a frequency of four trains per hour in the peak, but there has been uncertainty over when the 'central section' through to the east of the capital will be delivered.

A new leadership team at Crossrail has announced a new plan to put the project 'back on track', by identifying a six month window for the delivery of London's central section, with a mid-point at the end of 2020 to complete the scheme.

It was originally planned to be launched in 2018.

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.

The fresh plan to complete the outstanding works and bring the Elizabeth line into passenger service at the earliest date has been developed by the new Crossrail leadership team and agreed by the Crossrail Ltd Board.

It has required identifying and re-sequencing over 100,000 tasks.

It is expected that all stations on the route will open except for Bond Street which is delayed because of design and delivery challenges.

Crossrail Ltd says it is working closely with Costain Skanska Joint Venture to ensure the station is ready to open at the earliest opportunity.

As the completion work proceeds Crossrail Ltd added it will be providing commuters with regular progress reports and specific estimates of when the line will open.

A new visual management system has also been put in place to monitor progress by contractors and their supply chains to address issues.

The four major tasks that must be completed include building and testing the software to integrate the train operating system with three different signalling systems, installing and testing station systems, completing installation of the equipment in the tunnels, and trial run the trains over thousands of miles.

Crossrail expects the remaining fit-out and systems installation in the stations and tunnels will be completed this year, allowing the new stations and rail infrastructure to be integrated with the rest of the railway. Nine new Elizabeth line stations are being constructed as part of the Crossrail programme.

Mark Wild, chief executive at Crossrail Ltd, said: “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.”

Tony Meggs, chairman at Crossrail Ltd, said: “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.”

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