Transport for London has affirmed that the new Crossrail Elizabeth line is set to go into full service in the first half of 2022, as it assumes control of the new rail link’s station at Paddington.
Six out of London’s ten new Elizabeth line stations have now been transferred from Crossrail Ltd, the company building the new railway, to TfL, which will operate and maintain the line. The Elizabeth line stop at Whitechapel is soon to follow suit, with those at Farringdon, Custom House, Tottenham Court Road, Woolwich and Liverpool Street already in TfL hands.
The “trial running” phase of the service, essential to ensure its safety, has reached the point where 12 trains an hour are currently running through the new tunnels under Central London, anticipating the frequency of trains due to start carrying passengers in 2022.
Rail services between Paddington and Heathrow airport and Reading, presently called TfL Rail, will be renamed Elizabeth line when the full launch takes place. The full Elizabeth line network will encompass London stations from West Drayton in Hillingdon to Harold Wood in Havering and a spur will reach south of the Thames as far as Abbey Wood in Greenwich.
As well as the new station at Paddington, there will be a new step-free connection tunnel between the Elizabeth line platforms and the Bakerloo London Underground station there.
Governance of the Crossrail programme became TfL’s alone last October, having previously been its joint responsibility with the Department for Transport, with Crossrail chief executive Mark Wild reporting directly to TfL commissioner Andy Byford. Wild had taken up the post in November 2018, having been London Underground’s managing directer since 2016.
The Crossail project has been bedevilled by delays throughout this century, which opened amid hopes that the new line would be completed in time for the London 2012 Olympics.
Funding for the scheme of £15.9 billion was agreed in autumn 2007 by the then Labour government and Labour Mayor Ken Livingstone. It involved larger London businesses contributing through a business rate supplement, which was introduced under Boris Johnson’s mayoralty in 2010.
In the same year, a revised-down financial framework of £14.8 billion was agreed between Johnson and the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government. At the end of Johnson’s second mayoral term in 2016, more than half of the cost of Crossrail was being met from within London, with £7.1 billion being provided by TfL and the GLA and developer contributions and the Mayor’s Community Infrastructure Levy bringing in more (page six).
A prospective starting date of December 2018 was missed and the funding envelope increased to £17.6 billion and then to £17.8 billion the following July. Following Crossrail’s transfer to its control, TfL was given authority to borrow up to a further £825 million from the DfT to finish the job. Should that sum be used, the final cost could reach £18.6 billion. Crossrail’s full breakdown of the £17.8 billion figure can be seen here.
Wild said of the Paddington station’s transfer to TfL: “This beautiful new station will provide a gateway for those travelling from the Thames Valley or Heathrow into central London and beyond, providing greater transport links, better job opportunities and a significant economic boost. There is still a tremendous amount of work to be done but the railway remains on track to open in the first half of next year.”
Image from Crossrail Ltd.
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