The Elizabeth line, which will connect many parts of West London much more quickly with central London and elsewhere, will open through central London in autumn 2019.
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.
The hugely complex ten-year project, delivered by Crossrail, brings 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, say Crossrail, will boost the economy by an estimated £42bn.
Crossrail say 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.”
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.
When the central section of the Elizabeth line opens in autumn 2019, the railway will initially operate as three separate services as planned:
• Paddington (Elizabeth line station) to Abbey Wood via central London
• Paddington (mainline station) to Heathrow (Terminals 2, 3 and 4)
• Liverpool Street (mainline station) to Shenfield
The Elizabeth line will bring an extra 1.5 million people to within 45 minutes of central London and more than 200 million passengers are expected to use it every year.