he Crossrail project will launch by the end of June, Transport for London pledged.
An exact opening date has yet to be announced but the service is currently more than three years behind schedule and expected to have a total cost of almost £19 billion.
Test trains are running along the line in advance of its opening to passengers in central London, and mass evacuation tests involving thousands of role-playing volunteers are due to be held over the coming weekends.
TfL has permission to spend an extra £1.1 billion to get the line in full service but, as things stand, has only been able to secure £825 million of loans.
The high-speed train and Tube link will connect the outer western edges of the capital to the outer east.
Crossrail chiefs pledged on Tuesday 18 January that the line remains on track to see the central section — running between Paddington and Abbey Wood — open by the revised June 2022 deadline.
The Crossrail effect: property price growth along the Elizabeth line
The other sections, from Reading and Heathrow in the west to Shenfield in the east, are currently expected to open in the autumn.
The full line will eventually enable passengers to travel from Reading and Heathrow through central London to Shenfield or Abbey Wood without needing to change trains. The final version of the timetable across the entire line is expected to be in place by May 2023.
When trains start along the route the service will be known as the Elizabeth line.
TfL Commissionor Andy Byford said: “The Elizabeth line is extremely complex, and the Trial Operations phase will continue until it is clear that the highest levels of safety and reliability are in place before the railway can open to customers.”
What is the Elizabeth line?
It has been billed as the capital’s biggest and most important transport upgrade since the expansion of the Tube network over 100 years ago and promises to change the lives of millions of Londoners and commuters.
The route will pass through 41 stations, stretching over 60 miles, from Reading and Heathrow airport in the west through central London to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east.
More than 1.4 billion Tube journeys were made in 2018/2019, according to TfL. It is hoped that the new service will ease the burden on the network while also catering for a London population that’s growing by 100,000 a year.
It’s thought more than 200 million passengers will use the Elizabeth line each year.
Nine new stations are being built as part of the project, at Paddington, Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road, Farringdon, Liverpool Street, Whitechapel, Canary Wharf, Custom House and Woolwich.
An existing station at Abbey Wood has been redeveloped for Crossrail.
Elizabeth line delays and costs
The original funding allocated for Crossrail was £14.6 billion in 2010. In 2018 this was revised to £17.6 billion.
Just three months before the anticipated 2018 opening ceremony the first of the delays was announced, with the most recent of these declaring that the central section of the line would open by the end of June 2022.
The agreed funding has since risen to £18.8 billion. TfL has permission to spend an extra £1.1 billion to get the line in full service but, as things stand, has only been able to secure £825 million of loans.
The impact of the pandemic will cost Crossrail about £1 billion in lost fares, according to TfL.
The London Assembley is also seeking assurances from TfL about its ability to fund the remainder of the project should Omicron cause further delays to the launch.
Opening dates and key journey times
The central section of the line will launch by the end of June, according to TfL. The other sections are expected to open in the autumn.
Central Section: to launch by June
Trains will start from a new Elizabeth line station at Paddington and go through to Abbey Wood, a route that passes through main employment hubs such as Liverpool Street and Canary Wharf.
Example journey times:
- Paddington to Canary Wharf will take 17 minutes
- Bond Street to Liverpool Street will take seven minutes
- Woolwich to Farringdon will take 14 minutes
The east and west sections will open in later stages.
East section: expected to launch in autumn 2022
This section will run from Liverpool Street mainline station to Shenfield in Essex, passing through eastern areas such as Stratford and Romford.
Example journey times:
- Romford to Liverpool Street will take 27 minutes
- Stratford to Bond Street will take 15 minutes
West section: expected to launch in autumn 2022
This route will begin at Paddington mainline station, splitting just after Hayes & Harlington, with one branch going to Maidenhead and Reading and the other to Heathrow airport terminals.
Example journey times:
- Tottenham Court Road to Ealing Broadway will take 13 minutes
- Paddington to Slough will take 26 minutes
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