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Crossrail to miss its launch date by nine months as ‘extensive testing’ is still required on London’s new east to west railway

PUBLISHED: 10:25 31 August 2018 | UPDATED: 11:07 31 August 2018

The Elizabeth Line train at the Crossrail depot between Ilford and Seven Kings. Picture: TfL

The Elizabeth Line train at the Crossrail depot between Ilford and Seven Kings. Picture: TfL

TfL

Crossrail, London’s new east to west train service, will miss its December 2018 opening date target, it has been announced today (Friday, August 31).

The line, which when finished will be known as the Elizabeth line and will run from Reading and Heathrow in the west and Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east, is made up of 42km of tunnels running underneath the capital and has been under construction since May 2009.

A spokesman for the project has now revealed that the line will not be fully operational until autumn 2019, with the central section between Paddington and Abbey Wood still needing additional work.

More time is needed to complete “final infrastructure and extensive testing” to ensure a “safe and reliable railway” is delivered, according to Crossrail Limited.

Rail minister Jo Johnson announced last month that the scheme’s budget has been increased from £14.8 billion to £15.4 billion due to “cost pressures”.

Crossrail Limited described the 10-year project as “hugely complex”, stating that the original timetable for testing has been reduced by contractors needing more time to complete work in the central tunnels and develop software.

The firm insisted that “the focus remains” on opening the full east-west line “as soon after the central tunnels open as possible”.

Simon Wright, Crossrail Limited chief executive, said: “The Elizabeth line is one of the most complex and challenging infrastructure projects ever undertaken in the UK and is now in its final stages.

“We have made huge progress with the delivery of this incredible project but we need further time to complete the testing of the new railway.

“We are working around the clock with our supply chain and Transport for London to complete and commission the Elizabeth line.”

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan admitted the delay was disappointing, but stressed that it could not be helped.

He said: ““This has been a 10-year construction project and is one of the most complex engineering schemes ever undertaken. It is essential that a safe and reliable railway operates from day one, and this has to be the top priority.”

There are now 15 Elizabeth line trains which are already operating on the TfL Rail line from Liverpool Street to Shenfield.

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