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Elizabeth line opening date delayed by nearly a year

Image credit: Dreamstime

The opening of the Elizabeth line, London’s upcoming new underground line, has been delayed to next autumn from its original date of December this year.

Crossrail, which is looking after the construction of the Elizabeth line, said that the revised schedule is needed to complete the final infrastructure and extensive testing required to ensure the Elizabeth line is as safe and reliable as possible.

In July 2018, the line was reportedly around 93 per cent complete, at an estimated cost of £15.4bn.

The line features 21km of new twin tunnels below the city which will run from Paddington in the west to Stratford and Canary Wharf in the east.

Once open, it should carry over 200 million passengers per year, add 10 per cent to central London’s rail capacity and will hopefully ease congestion on some of the other lines.

Crossrail said the original programme for testing has been compressed by more time being needed by contractors to complete fit-out activity in the central tunnels and the development of railway systems software. While testing has already started, further time is required to complete the full range of integrated tests.

Simon Wright, Crossrail 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.”

The new Elizabeth line trains are already operating between Shenfield and Liverpool Street (mainline station) and between Paddington (mainline station) and Hayes & Harlington, in readiness for the full opening. The trains are also being tested in the Heathrow tunnels. Construction activity is drawing to a close including the completion of the remaining architectural fit-out in the new central section stations.

The Elizabeth line will bring an extra 1.5 million people to within 45 minutes of central London and more than 200 million passengers are expected to use it every year.

Mark Wild, London Underground and Elizabeth line managing director, said: “We will continue to work closely with Crossrail Limited as they complete the remaining railway infrastructure work and testing needed to deliver the new railway. The delayed opening is disappointing, but ensuring the Elizabeth line is safe and reliable for our customers from day one is of paramount importance.”

In March, University of Huddersfield researchers outlined how they optimised the line to lower maintenance costs associated with the inevitable wear and tear of having so many trains run across the tracks every day. 

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