Crossrail says the delay is needed to complete the final infrastructure and extensive testing required to ensure safety and reliability. Contractors require more time to complete fit-out activity in the central tunnels and develop the railway systems software, meaning the original timeframe for testing was reduced. Testing has started but Crossrail says further time is required to complete the full range of integrated tests.
Construction on the 118km line, which will link Reading and Heathrow Airport with Shenfield in the east and Abbey Wood via a 21km twin-bore tunnel under central London, began in 2009.
Crossrail says the focus remains on opening the full 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.
MTR is already operating services under the TfL brand between Shenfield and Liverpool Street, and between Paddington and Hayes & Harlington. Trains are also being tested for ERTMS operation on the Heathrow branch, and construction activity is drawing to a close including the completion of the remaining architectural fit-out in the new central section stations.
When the central section of the Elizabeth Line opens in autumn 2019, the railway will still initially operate as three separate services between:
- Paddington (Elizabeth Line station) to Abbey Wood via central London
- Paddington (mainline station) to Heathrow (Terminals 2, 3 and 4), and
- Liverpool Street (mainline station) to Shenfield
“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,” says Crossrail chief executive, Mr Simon Wright. “We are working around-the-clock with our supply chain and Transport for London to complete and commission the Elizabeth line.”
“We will continue to work closely with Crossrail as they complete the remaining railway infrastructure work and testing needed to deliver the new railway,” says Mr Mark Wild, London Underground and Elizabeth Line managing director. “The delayed opening is disappointing, but ensuring the Elizabeth Line is safe and reliable for our customers from day one is of paramount importance.”