Crossrail opening delayed by up to a year

Crossrail opening delayed by up to a year

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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1 Comment

  1. Malcolm Redfellow says:

    As a London resident (1943-1950 and 1967-2013) I feel your pain.

    Had you looked a bit further, you might have spotted further major rail malfunctions.

    There’s this from yesterday’s ‘York Press’:

    Testing of a new fleet of electric trains on the East Coast Mainline north of York has been halted because of technical problems. […]

    … it has now emerged that electromagnetic interference has caused problems with signal interlocking on the route, with all Hitachi trains banned from operating on electric power north of Colton junction near York.

    A Network Rail spokeswoman told The Press it continued to work with Hitachi on testing of the Intercity Express Trains as part of their introduction to service.

    ‚ÄúElectro Magnetic Compatibility forms a key aspect of this testing and is currently taking place along the East Coast Main Line,” she said.

    “As the testing in ongoing, it‚Äôs too early to say what fixes may be required, whether this be to infrastructure or rolling stock.‚Äù

    That decodes to me as, ‘Search me, guv: I haven’t a clue’.

    My ultra-superstitious grandmother reckoned these things happen in threes, and after two would search an old piece of crockery to smash. Alternatively, the Curse of Failing Grayling strikes without warning, and indiscrimately.

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