Commuters Wait A Little Longer For The Elizabeth Line

The final development stages are underway in the long-awaited Crossrail project.

Crossrail’s Elizabeth line has been much anticipated by commuters in the south-east, promising incredibly fast connections across the capital, from stations in Essex through Central London and out to Reading or Heathrow Airport’s terminals in the west. Journey times are being slashed; taking for example the current average journey time from Romford in Essex out to Heathrow Central, this is approximately 80 minutes in length pre-Crossrail. But when the Elizabeth line is fully open, this should be cut to just 64 minutes which is a considerable saving.

But it’s not just journey times that are the benefit of the Crossrail effect. The line features 40 stations, and property prices in areas near a station have shown considerable demand in the run-up to the opening according to Keystones Property Estate Agents. Average growth stands in excess of 41% in the last decade of planning and construction, along with 57,000 new homes that have been built as part of the project.

With all the hype surrounding Crossrail, it’s frustrating then that residents are still waiting in part for the Elizabeth line to be fully operational. Parts of the line are running, but there are still vast sections that still require work and prevent these fast cross-capital times promises from being achieved. So, what’s the latest on the Crossrail project?

Delivery Control Schedule

The Crossrail Leadership Team have identified 120 milestone stages that should be tracked, which include work on tunnels, stations and technology systems that are all integral to the smooth running of the Elizabeth line. Fit-out of the tunnels is almost complete and should be signed off by the end of this year. The same is true of the fit-out of stations, which are almost ready to be integrated in with the rest of the railway. Some existing stations still require platform extension works which are underway in places such as West Ealing, Acton Main Line and Southall, whilst other stations such as Ilford and Romford have had contracts awarded so platform work can commence shortly.

At all 40 stations, there are 200 CCTV cameras, 66 informational display systems, 50km of comms cabling, 200 antennas, 750 audio speakers to pass information to the public, and 50 help points. This all needs to be installed and configured.  Testing of the trains in the tunnels using sophisticated Siemens software is also conducted and approval has recently been granted to move to testing in ‘integrated’ mode which puts the signalling software through its paces.

Once this has been achieved, extensive testing shall be carried out in 2020, to ensure that the entire line is deemed to be safe and secure enough to be opened to the public. This is a complex, but essential final stage of the project and it would be irresponsible to take any shortcuts with it. So currently, Crossrail anticipates a six-month delivery window of October 2020 to March 2021 before the Elizabeth line is fully open across central London, connecting out to Essex in the east and Reading/Heathrow in the west.