Operational testing of Crossrail to begin at ‘earliest opportunity in 2021’

Operational testing of the delayed Crossrail is expected to begin as soon as possible next year, as direct control of the programme transfers to Transport for London (TfL).

Crossrail Ltd said on Thursday that delivery of the line is now its final stages, with a comprehensive plan in place to complete the railway before moving towards “trial running” at the earliest opportunity in 2021.

As it moves from the construction phase to the operational phase, direct control of Crossrail has now been handed over to TfL, which will be the operator and maintainer of the railway.

The troubled line, from Berkshire to Essex via central London, was originally expected to open in December 2018 but repeated delays have pushed it back.

An update from Crossrail Ltd at the end of August said the opening of the railway, which will be called the Elizabeth Line, was to be delayed again until the first half of 2022.

Crossrail Ltd said TfL and the Department for Transport (DfT), joint sponsors of the project, have agreed a transition plan for the coming months.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “We are all aware that times have been challenging for Crossrail Ltd and we would have all liked to see more progress made.

Crossrail project
Crossrail project

“But now is the right time for the project to transition to TfL as stations and other assets are handed over and in advance of trial running getting under way.”

London’s Transport Commissioner Andy Byford will chair a single Elizabeth Line Delivery Group, comprised of senior members of TfL, London Underground and Crossrail Ltd.

High-level oversight will be provided by the Elizabeth Line Committee, which will meet in public every eight weeks and include members of the TfL Board.

Mr Byford said: “As it gets closer to becoming an operational railway the time is right for the responsibility for Crossrail to transfer to TfL and the people who will run it.”