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‘Huge challenges ahead’ as Crossrail bosses say new rolling stock coming in December

A possible opening date for Crossrail could be announced by the end of month and Class 345 Elizabeth Line trains to be introduced in December but there are “huge challenges ahead,” Crossrail bosses have warned.

Crossrail chief executive Mark Wild has warned that progress continues to be hampered by several problems including a shortage of skills among contractors as well as software issues and a safety-critical failure.

In a letter to the London Assembly Transport Committee chair Caroline Pidgeon, Wild said finishing the scandal-hit £17.6bn project is “taking longer than hoped” but that he wants to reveal an opening window in April.

He wrote: “We remain committed to being able to provide an opening window – the Earliest Opening Programme – in April.”

Simon Dudley, the leader of Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Council, also tweeted a letter from chair and deputy chair of Crossrail, Tony Meggs and Nick Raynsford.

The letter, addressed to Dudley, said that the Crossrail leadership team has decided not to commit to a new operating date yet, but said that new trains would be operating under TfL rail services in December this year.

The new Class 345 trains will operate on services from Maidenhead into Paddington in the east and Reading in the west.

But the chair said there were “huge challenges ahead,” highlighting that “the scale and complexity of the programme is not something the UK has undertaken in many years.”

Meggs and Raynsford said: “One of the priorities for the board and the project’s leadership team is to rebuild trust and confidence in the programme.

“We can only do that by keeping the promises we make and so the board, together with Mark and the whole leadership team, have made the decision not to commit to a new opening date until we have a revised delivery plan in which we have a high level of confidence.”

Councillor Dudley welcomed the letter and said he was “delighted to see that the rolling stock will be in by the end of the year.”

Mark Wild’s letter added: “This process is taking longer than I had hoped but we are making progress. We hope to provide more detail to the assembly, our London stakeholders and beyond, later in April.”

Both letters stated that the Earliest Opening Window will initially include a range of dates within which the line will open, which will be progressively narrowed down to a more specific opening date as the board gets more certainty in the project.

Image credit - Neil Lancefield/PA Wire/PA Images


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