Trial operations on the Crossrail are finally underway ahead of its opening in the first half of 2022, almost three years after the project’s initial deadline.
Operations will involve exercises to ensure the project’s safety and reliability, while also testing the timetables. Over the coming months, more than 150 scenarios will be carried out – including operations to check whether systems work effectively and staff can respond quickly enough to incidents such as signal failure.
“The next few months are crucial to making sure the railway can open safely next year, and everyone is working incredibly hard to reach that goal,” said London mayor Sadiq Khan. “The Elizabeth line will help transform travel in London and the South East, dramatically improving transport links, supporting regeneration and boosting our economic recovery.”
More serious exercises such as evacuations will take place from 2022, with a period of shadow running being the last step before the line can open.
“It will take several months to complete this final phase,” added Crossrail’s chief executive Mark Wild. “This is an immensely complex railway and we must be able to demonstrate the highest levels of reliability.
“Everyone is working hard to deliver the Elizabeth line as soon as practically possible and we remain on track to commence passenger services in the first half of 2022.”
The news comes a few days after Wild told a Greater London Authority (GLA) transport committee meeting that trialling would begin even though not all scenarios are ready.
“We made the decision collaboratively with Andy [Byford, Transport for London’s commissioner] and the whole team that we’re better getting going,” Wild said. “It would be a bit pointless to wait for the 144 tests and drills we can get on with.”
“We’re going to progress trial operations as soon as we can, in the next few days of weeks, as soon as we have the safety insurance under our belt.”