The central section of Crossrail will not be fully open until ‘the first half of 2022’ and the project has gone further over budget, the company building it has said.
Crossrail Ltd said its board’s latest assessment, is that the central section of what will be known as the Elizabeth line between Paddington and Abbey Wood will be ready to open in the first half of 2022.
A Crossrail test train
It added: ‘As work to complete the railway progresses, there may be opportunity to review and bring forward the opening of the central section, subject to progress during the intensive operational testing phase.'
The company said the latest cost estimate presented to the Board shows that the cost to complete the project could be up to £1.1bn above the Financing Package agreed in December 2018 (£450m more than the upper end of the range announced in November 2019).
Work is ongoing to finalise the cost estimates.
Chief executive Mark Wild said: ‘Our focus remains on opening the Elizabeth line as soon as possible. Now more than ever Londoners are relying on the capacity and connectivity that the Elizabeth line will bring, and we are doing everything possible to deliver the railway as safely and quickly as we can.
‘We have a comprehensive plan to complete the railway and we are striving to commence intensive operational testing for the Elizabeth line, known as Trial Running, at the earliest opportunity.
‘Delivery of the Elizabeth line is now in its complex final stages and is being completed at a time of great uncertainty due to the risk and potential impacts of further Covid outbreaks. We are working tirelessly to complete the remaining infrastructure works so that we can fully test the railway and successfully transition the project as an operational railway to Transport for London.’
Andy Byford, London’s Transport Commissioner, said: 'It is very disappointing to receive confirmation from Crossrail Ltd that their plan for opening the Elizabeth Line now has a date of the first half of 2022.
'I will now work with my team and the DfT to review Crossrail’s plans. I have been very clear that I am committed to getting this railway open safely and reliably as quickly as possible for the benefit of London and beyond.'
Crossrail Ltd said the new delay is due to three main factors:
Routeway: ‘we have had lower than planned productivity in the final completion and handover of the shafts and portals. The shafts and portals form a critical part of the routeway and contain many of the complex operating systems for the Elizabeth line. We have now completed handover of eight of the 10 shafts and portals to TfL and will complete handover of the final two this autumn.’
Stations: ‘as more detailed plans for the completion and handover of the ten central section stations have developed, we have revised our previous schedule assumptions about the pace at which these large and complex stations can be handed over to TfL. The completion and handover of all the stations in the central section is a monumental task - in our updated plan we have phased the transfer of stations to take account the scale of this undertaking.’
COVID-19: ‘Covid has further exacerbated the schedule pressures due to a pause of physical activity on sites during lockdown to keep the workforce safe and significant constraints on ongoing work and productivity due to the reduced numbers that can work on site to meet strict social distancing requirements. We now have a maximum of around 2,000 people on our sites, less than 50% of our pre-Covid complement.’