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Crossrail will not open this year as launch delayed by at least 9 months

Elizabeth Line services through central London have been delayed by at least nine months as Crossrail pencils in extra time to complete final infrastructure and carry out extensive testing.

The section, between Paddington and Abbey Wood, was scheduled to open in December this year, but has now been scaled back to an undefined date in autumn 2019.

In a statement, the company said the revised schedule is necessary to “ensure a safe and reliable railway for customers from day one of passenger service.”

“Crossrail Limited has been working hard to maintain the programme and sufficient testing time is required to introduce the next phase of the railway – the central section between Paddington and Abbey Wood – in a way that can be guaranteed to be safe and reliable,” the statement explained.

“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 full Elizabeth Line—from Reading and Heathrow in the west to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east—will be opened “as soon after the central tunnels open as possible.” But today’s delays very likely mean that the full service will not be operational by the end of 2019 as originally planned.

Simon Wright, Crossrail’s chief executive, said the organisation has made “huge progress with the delivery of this incredible project,” but needs further time to complete necessary testing— and is working around the clock with TfL and the supply chain to complete and commission the line.

Construction activity is now nearing the end, including the completion of the remaining architectural fit-out in the new central section stations. Elizabeth Line trains are already running between Shenfield and Liverpool Street and between Paddington and Hayes & Harlington, and trains are also being tested in the Heathrow tunnels.

Today’s news comes just a month after RTM revealed that the Crossrail project had soared £600m over budget, and was due to escalate further due to engineering, technical and cost challenges. As expected, it has also attracted harsh criticism from politicians and business leaders.


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