Crossrail gets a rejigged delivery schedule as cost concerns and snow troubles add to pressure on Elizabeth Line opening time

Rebecca Smith
The project is more than 90 per cent complete but concerns remain
The project is more than 90 per cent complete but concerns remain (Source: Getty)

Crossrail Ltd has drawn up a revised delivery schedule for the £14.8bn project after facing rising cost and schedule pressures, and disruption from this month's severe weather troubles, it emerged today.

The rejigged plans have been developed as part of efforts to ensure the Elizabeth Line opens on time in December.

The Elizabeth Line will serve 41 stations and stretch across more than 60 miles from Reading and Heathrow in the west through tunnels in central London to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east. Once it's up and running, it is expected to carry more than 200m passengers a year.

According to Transport for London (TfL) board papers published late last night, while construction is more than 90 per cent complete, "a very significant amount of work remains" to wrap it up, and to test and commission the new infrastructure ahead of the big launch of the Elizabeth Line in December.

A revised delivery schedule has been developed, and concerns are being escalated "at the highest level" with firms involved in the project, according to TfL commissioner Mike Brown. The revised plan "sets out the programme to achieve opening of the Elizabeth Line in December 2018 and completion of the full service in December 2019".

Read more: Mapped: How the Elizabeth Line will open in stages

Brown said:

This prioritises delivery of systems (including communications, ventilation and platform screen doors) that are critical to the operational railway.

It also incorporates later than planned dates from Bombardier – which is delivering the project’s rolling stock and depot.

Along with Crossrail Ltd, we are actively monitoring and escalating concerns at the highest level with the companies involved in delivering this vital project for London and the wider region.

TfL said the team remains "fully focused" on the task, and was ensuring "all steps are being taken" to manage any emerging financial pressures.

There have been some concerns over signalling equipment on the trains, as well as an electrical explosion at Pudding Mill Lane before the sub-station there was successfully switched on last month. Some station works, including at Whitechapel, Woolwich have taken longer than expected, and there remains much to do on the likes of Bond Street and Liverpool Street.

To top it off, the snow brought from the Beast from the East at the beginning of March disrupted some work within tunnel sections "due to a frozen water main".

However, TfL said the weather has not had any serious effects on contractors and the work they are carrying out.

The timeline for the project is key for TfL, as the Elizabeth Line is forecast to bring in £3bn over the next five years.

Elizabeth Line timeline
  • Stage one: Trains start operating from Liverpool Street to Shenfield – June 2017 (TfL Rail)
  • Stage two: Trains start operating from Heathrow to Paddington (main line platforms) – May 2018 (TfL Rail)
  • Stage three: Trains start operating from Paddington (Elizabeth line platforms) to Abbey Wood, through the new central tunnels – December 2018
  • Stage four: Trains start operating from Paddington (Elizabeth line platforms) to Shenfield – May 2019
  • Stage five: Full through service (including Elizabeth line services to Reading) – December 2019

Read more: TfL keeps slashing costs to tackle near £1bn operational deficit

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