Crossrail has confirmed that it’s on target to start trial running of trains through the tunnels as soon as possible next year following successful tests in the past few weeks.
In a letter to Alison Moore AM, Chair of the London Assembly Transport Committee, Crossrail’s CEO, Mark Wild gave an update on recent progress at Crossrail.
He noted that a significant milestone was achieved a few weeks back, when on the 5th November, six of the Elizabeth line trains passed through the central core tunnels at line speed and with close headway fully controlled by the signalling system.
Thanks to that, Crossrail plans to start Systems Integration Dynamic Testing next Thursday (3rd Dec), which gives the opportunity to test the signalling systems in operation-like scenarios, ramping up to eight trains in trial service.
He confirmed that they are still on target to start Trial Running as soon as possible in the first quarter of 2021. That is dependent on getting authorisation from the regulator, the Office of Rail and Road (ORR).
Although we’ve had a month of lockdown, construction sites were not required to close, so work carried on as close to normal as is possible in current times.
In recent weeks, another of the ventilation shafts — on Eleanor Street — was handed over to TfL, and the two remaining shafts, at Limmo and Stepney Green should be handed over by the end of the year. Apart from being a milestone achieved, the handover gives TfL staff time to get familiar with the structures.
A blockade is currently underway, running until 1st Dec that’s focusing on the central section routeway, shafts and the portals where tunnels rise up to the surface.
Farringdon station is the first to be substantially completed, and Crossrail will soon enter a 12-week countdown to hand it over to TfL. In addition, the late-running Bond Street station also managed to get certified to support Trial Running of trains through the station, which had been expected to take place by the end of October.
Over at the Network Raik stations, works at Ilford are expected to be completed in May 2021, and Romford by late 2021. Works are still carrying on at Hayes & Harlington, Southall, Acton, Ealing Broadway, West Ealing and West Drayton
He confirmed the current target of opening the Elizabeth line in the first half of 2022, but added “or sooner” to the sentence, hinting as has been in recent weeks that it might open earlier.
That all depends on the success of Trial Running, and then later a few months of Trial Operations, where the service runs as a live service, minus the passengers.