TRANSPORT for London (TfL) has confirmed it will soon apply to the British regulator the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) for authorisation to begin commercial operation of the 21km Abbey Wood - Paddington section of Crossrail.

Crossrail chief executive Mr Mark Wild told IRJ on March 7, during a press visit to the railway, that the opening date remains the first half of 2022. However, he said that other than start the official authorisation process, all that was left was to complete one final evacuation exercise at Paddington on March 13, and to ensure the operational staff are ready for the line to open. Trial operations are currently underway replicating the initial service.

Wild said that the ORR process is expected to be complete by the end of April. He said that would mean that the central section of Crossrail, which was due to begin commercial operation in December 2018, could open before than the end of June.

He also confirmed that nine of the 10 new stations in central London have been handed over to TfL. The final station to be handed over will be Bond Street, and Wild confirmed that this will not be ready in time for when Crossrail opens, but will be about three months late.


TfL chief operating officer Mr Andy Lord told IRJ that when Crossrail first opens, there will be 12 trains per hour operating in the central section. At that point Crossrail will operate as three separate railways. These will be:

  • the central section between Abbey Wood and the Crossrail Paddington station
  • the eastern section between Shenfield and London Liverpool Street, and
  • the western section from Reading and Heathrow Airport to the main Paddington station.

Lord said that the next phase to begin commercial operation after the central section opens will be from Abbey Wood to the western section. This is expected to commence in the autumn. The final stage will be the introduction of the full network from Shenfield - Reading via central London, which is expected in May 2023. Lord said that trains could begin operating between Shenfield and the Crossrail Paddington station in the autumn.

Once the full network is operational, there will be 24 trains per hour in the central section, with 12 terminating at Paddington and reversing there, while the rest will continue west.

Lord said that passenger numbers on Crossrail are expected to be around 60% of the original projection. He said that by 2026 there are expected to be 170 million passenger per year, instead of the 200 million envisaged.

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Crossrail is one of IRJ’s 20 projects to watch in 2022, which is published in the January edition. Digital subscribers can read the feature here.

An interview with Lord was published in the January 2022 edition of IRJ. Digital subscribers can read it here.

An interview with Wild was published in the July 2021 edition of IRJ. Digital subscribers can read it here.