Crossrail, the massive London transport infrastructure project that had been scheduled to open on 9 December, will not now open until next autumn, the company building it has announced.
Concerns have been rumbling for some time about the readiness of the signalling systems and other elements of the New Elizabeth Line service, which will eventually connect Reading and Heathrow to Shenfield and Abbey Wood by way of Central London, adding 10% to its rail capacity and creating a vital new revenue stream for Transport for London.
In July, minister for London Jo Johnson revealed that the project was running £590m over budget, with TfL and the Department for Transport meeting a cost rise from £14.8b to £15.4bn. TfL provided about half. Johnson stressed at the time that most of the funding has come from within London, including its businesses.
Some trains are already operating on the new tracks and being tested in new tunnels, but Crossrail has said in a statement that “we need further time to complete the testing of the new railway”, including for “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.”
TfL commissioner Mike Brown said in January that there were “increased cost and schedule pressures” on the project and the now former Deputy Mayor for Transport, Val Shawcross warned that any delays to the Elizabeth Line opening represented “a major revenue risk” to TfL’s budgets, where already under considerable strain.
Specialist website London Reconnections, which has excellent links with the capital’s transport world, had already reported that signalling in a new tunnel running beneath Heathrow was regarded as a major worry and that Crossrail was “cutting it fine.”
BBC London Transport correspondent Tom Edwards has been told there hasn’t been “one specific problem” but “issues with three different signalling systems and also delays to the station fit outs”.
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