From the wrong kind of snow to wet leaves: The Elizabeth line is undergoing all-weather testing to be ready come rain or shine

Rebecca Smith
The Elizabeth line is braced for any future White Christmas
The Elizabeth line is braced for any future White Christmas (Source: TfL)

You know all those recent disruptions the Piccadilly line was dealing with due to wet leaves and pesky cold weather?

Well, Transport for London (TfL) is making sure that come rain or shine, the Elizabeth line will not suffer such a fate. In fact, it's currently undergoing some gruelling testing in readiness for any possible weather conditions they might encounter. The first of the trains will go into service in May 2017.

Bombardier Transportation, which is building the new trains in Derby, has the first carriage of a test train over in Vienna for three weeks of testing for any weather - with temperatures ranging from -25ºC up to +40ºC.

Read more: All Piccadilly line trains are now fixed and back in service, says TfL

Apparently, the facility in Vienna - the Rail Tec Arsenal test centre - is the only place in Europe that can carry out this level of testing on trains.

When fully operational in 2019, the Elizabeth line will serve Reading and Heathrow in the west through to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east.

The Elizabeth line trains are already undergoing weather tests
The Elizabeth line trains are already undergoing weather tests (Source: TfL)

Howard Smith, operations director for the Elizabeth line, said: “Although we’ve not had snow in London yet this year, we’ve put the train through a white Christmas. It’s important that we check that the new trains can operate in anything that the changing British weather can throw at them."

TfL said that around half the Piccadilly line's fleet had been taken out of service for repairs at the end of November, with delays going on for weeks.

Read more: Here's how much Crossrail's Elizabeth Line rebrand actually cost TfL

Wet leaves and cold weather make the train tracks slippery, meaning the Piccadilly line wheels often lock when braking, damaging the wheels and the tracks. Newer trains such as those on the Circle, Hammersmith and City and District lines have wheel slide protection, but the older trains on the Piccadilly line don't.

London mayor Sadiq Khan has said a Piccadilly upgrade will go ahead, with resignalling work starting in 2020 and new trains arriving from 2023.

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