Elizabeth line on track to open in the first half of this year as Trial Operations phase continues
This will be a milestone year for Londoners with the Elizabeth line set to open in the first half of the year. TfL is coming to the end of the first phase of its Trial Operations ahead of starting the next phase including large-scale exercises across the new railway - a crucial step ahead of the Elizabeth line opening.
The transformational railway will reduce journey times, create additional transport capacity, improve accessibility and provide a huge economic boost to the capital and beyond.
With new stations and travel links, the Elizabeth line will support new housing and jobs across London, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Essex.
Significant progress was made towards completing the new railway over Christmas with planned upgrades taking place and work continuing at the two state-of-the-art new stations still to be handed over to TfL.
The latest Siemens signalling software for the railway was commissioned along with the updated Alstom train software installed on trains. There were also upgrades to both the control communications system and the tunnel ventilation system.
The Trial Operations phase will involve a range of organisations, including TfL and London Underground, MTR Elizabeth line (as the operator), and Network Rail collaborating on the response to trial scenarios along with thousands of volunteers.
Emergency services including the British Transport Police, London Fire Brigade and London Ambulance Service will also be involved, demonstrating how they would respond to incidents on the network and in stations.
As a result, there will be times where police, fire and ambulance service vehicles may be seen near stations, testing and simulating what would happen in the event their staff were required to attend.
The Elizabeth line will transform travel
In the run up to opening the Elizabeth line, activity will be taking place on most days including weekends. Other exercises will include responding to train, signalling, platform screen door and track simulations.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: 'The Elizabeth line will transform travel across London and the South East, benefitting millions and supporting hundreds of thousands of new homes and jobs.
'Its brand new trains and step-free stations will help us deliver a modern, truly world-class transport system that allows us to support the growth in London's population over the coming decades.
'That's why I'm delighted it is on track to open in the first half of 2022, in what will be a landmark moment for the capital.'
Andy Byford, Transport for London's Commissioner, said: 'This is an extremely exciting year for us and for London as we get ever closer to opening the Elizabeth line and welcoming customers from Abbey Wood to Paddington.
'The launch of this much needed and transformational addition to the transport network will be central to the recovery for London and the UK.
'Customers will experience a new way of travelling - with brand new, spacious step-free stations and new connections across the capital and beyond. There will be no better symbol of London's renaissance from the pandemic.'
Since May 2021, trains have been running through the tunnels to continue building up mileage and reliability ahead of the railway opening to passengers. When the Elizabeth line opens it will operate 12 trains per hour through the central section of the railway.
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.
Transport Minister Baroness Vere said: 'The Elizabeth line will be an integral part of London's transport network, creating additional capacity while making journeys shorter, easier and more accessible for passengers across London and the South East.
'Huge efforts have been made to get the project to this point and it's exciting to see the next stages of testing get underway ahead of the line opening later this year.'
Mark Wild, Crossrail Chief Executive, said: 'The Elizabeth line is on track to open in the first half of 2022 as we continue to make progress on completing the works necessary to start passenger services in the central section of the railway, from Paddington to Abbey Wood.
'I'd like to thank everyone for their continued hard work and we look forward to beginning the next phase of Trial Operations exercises.'
Elizabeth line customers will benefit from spacious stations and platforms, longer trains with walk-through air-conditioned carriages, live travel information and free Wi-Fi.
Progress continues to be made to also ensure that customers can enjoy 4G mobile connectivity as soon as possible. All 41 stations will provide step-free access from street to platform.
Notes to editors
- Trial Operations began on Saturday 20 November 2021
- Crossrail and TfL continue to make good progress on completing the remaining works necessary to open to passengers
- When the Elizabeth line opens it will initially operate as three separate railways. Customers from the west will initially need to change at Paddington for services into the central section of the route, and customers from the east will initially need to change at Liverpool Street
- A revised plan for an earlier full opening of the Elizabeth line has been developed. The latest plans ensure that Elizabeth line services from Reading, Heathrow and Shenfield can connect with the central tunnels from autumn 2022. The final milestone will be no later than May 2023, when the final timetable will be in place
- Eight of the ten central section Elizabeth line stations have been transferred to TfL and main contractors have demobilised from site at these eight stations. There has been a huge effort from everyone involved in the station handovers but there is still work to do with a focus on the imminent handover of Canary Wharf and completion of the remaining works at Bond Street
- The final cost of the project will not exceed the budget which TfL inherited when it assumed full control of the project, and London will ultimately fund the majority of the cost of the Elizabeth line