New east-west railway Crossrail will miss December opening date

Late arrival of Elizabeth line: London ‘s new east-west railway Crossrail will miss December opening date leaving passengers waiting until Autumn 2019 – after going £600m over budget

  • Colossal £14.8 billion project is expected to slash journey times across capital
  • Spokesman says more time is needed to complete infrastructure and testing
  • Project has already gone £600m over budget with extra funding needed 
  • Full Elizabeth line will include journey from Reading to Shenfield in Essex

London’s new £14.8 billion Elizabeth line will miss its December opening date with passengers now being forced to wait until next autumn for services to begin.   

The colossal project had been expected to open this year bringing significantly reduced journey times to the capital.

A spokesman confirmed today however, that the project would open later than expected. 

 An artist’s impression of the trains that will run on the Crossrail project when it opens in the autumn of next year

A map showing the new route of the Crossrail project, which has now been delayed until autumn next year. It will take commuters from Reading and Heathrow in the west to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east

An artist’s impression of how the new trains will look once fully operational. The line was originally scheduled to open in December of this year, but further testing is now required on the line

The spokesman for Crossrail Limited said: ‘The revised schedule is needed to complete the final infrastructure and extensive testing required to ensure the Elizabeth line opens as a safe and reliable railway.’   

More time is needed to test the central section between Paddington and Abbey Wood in a way that can be guaranteed to be safe and reliable.

The latest setback comes soon after it was announced by a rail minister that the project had already gone £600m over budget. 

Jo Johnson, in his annual update on the project, said that the schemes budget had increased from £14.8bn to £15.4bn.  

He blamed ‘cost pressures’ but said that additional funds would be provided by the Department for Transport and Transport for London.

The hugely complex ten-year project is bringing together multiple infrastructure contracts, new trains and three different signalling systems.

The Elizabeth line will add 10 per cent to central London’s rail capacity, and the project is estimated to boost the economy by an estimated £42bn. 

Once open it will allow journeys between Reading in the east and Shenfield in the west – all the way to Essex.

Another journey could take people from Heathrow Airport in the east to Abbey Wood in the west.

Crossrail workers in a train tunnel at the construction site of the Paddington Crossrail station, in central London

Passenger escalators are seen in an entrance hall as work is carried out at the Farringdon Crossrail station

General view of construction during the Crossrail breakthrough beneath Finsbury Circus. Thousands of construction workers have been involved in the project since its inception

The spokesman said: ‘The original programme for testing has been compressed by more time being needed by contractors to complete fit-out activity in the central tunnels and the development of railway systems software. 

‘Testing has started but further time is required to complete the full range of integrated tests.’

The focus remains on opening the full Elizabeth line, from Reading and Heathrow in the west to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east, as soon after the central tunnels open as possible.

Simon Wright, Crossrail Chief Executive said: ‘The Elizabeth line is one of the most complex and challenging infrastructure projects ever undertaken in the UK and is now in its final stages. 

‘We have made huge progress with the delivery of this incredible project but we need further time to complete the testing of the new railway. 

‘We are working around the clock with our supply chain and Transport for London to complete and commission the Elizabeth line.’

A major passenger thoroughfare is seen as work continues at the Farringdon Crossrail station. The Elizabeth line was expected to open in December 2018 but it has now been announced that it will not until autumn 2019

The passenger thoroughfare at Farringdon Crossrail station will see thousands of commuters pass through it every day once open

The Crossrail station under construction at Tottenham Court Road – this will also see thousands of commuters pass through once open

The new Elizabeth line trains are already operating between Shenfield and Liverpool Street (mainline station) and between Paddington (mainline station) and Hayes & Harlington, in readiness for the full opening. 

The trains are also being tested in the Heathrow tunnels. 

Construction activity is drawing to a close including the completion of the remaining architectural fit-out in the new central section stations.  

The new railway, jointly sponsored by the Department for Transport and Transport for London with support from London’s business community, will connect stations such as Paddington to Canary Wharf in only 17 minutes. 


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