One of the last few Elizabeth Line Committee meetings is due to take place this Thursday and it outlines the performance since the core tunnels opened, and what’s needed to complete the railway.

The report reveals that since the core tunnels through central London opened, passenger numbers on the Elizabeth line have been consistently higher than budgeted for, and excepting the impact of strike action elsewhere, now regularly exceed two million per week.

Tottenham Court Road station in the evening rush hour

In terms of reliability, the Public Performance Measure (PPM) has remained steadily above 95 per cent since its entry into Revenue Service, which the Elizabeth Line Committee minutes says is “demonstrating that inherent background reliability is high”. Ensuring that the line was reliable when it opened was a core demand from TfL’s outgoing Commissioner, Andy Byford as he didn’t want the line to open only to have a cascade of problems when carrying passengers.

One of the issues they’ve uncovered that’s affecting reliability is the thing that’s harder to test — and that’s human behaviour. They’ve found that people getting luggage stuck in doors are pulling so hard to free their suitcases that they’re dislodging the rubber safety edges on the doors — which then need to be put back into place. A modification to the rubber seals is being developed to prevent that from happening.

There’s not a lot that can be done about the humans though.

Despite that, the number of miles travelled by a train before it needs to be taken out of service due to a fault lasting more than three minutes remains above their target of 10,000 miles. However, there’s been problems with the maintenance of trains that are taken out of service, and the report says that there are concerns with regard to Alstom and Siemens management of the triage process. That’s being addressed, but is still a concern.

There’s also a target for keeping lifts in order to ensure Elizabeth line stations are step-free, and despite problems caused by the heatwave, they’re above their 98 per cent target, although there are some bad weeks masked in those averages.

Software changes

The train and signalling software, which was the cause of so many delays in opening the core tunnels is still being tweaked and improved. The latest upgrade to the train software, codenamed ELR210 was installed at the end of July 2022, eliminating 18 out of 19 operational restrictions on signalling, although a second update was deployed at the end of August to fix a bug in that latest software package.

A major software upgrade will be deployed over Christmas, and that’s needed to enable the auto-reverse function at Paddington, where empty trains can drive themselves out of Paddington into the sidings and then reverse back to Paddington while the driver is walking the length of the train. The auto-reverse is critical to the May 2023 service enhancement, lifting the peak hours trains in the central tunnels from 22 trains per hour to 24 trains per hour.

They probably could then carry out the upgrade in January, but have decided to hold off until May to give things time to settle down between system upgrades. May is also when the National Rail timetable changes, so it’s a bit more convenient to change the Elizabeth timetables at the same time.

As previously announced, through-running services on the railway starts on Sunday 6th November 2022, with Sunday services also being introduced from this date. Ahead of that though, there will be a full timetable test on Sunday 23rd October, when the line is closed to passengers.

That timetable change will see off-peak service frequencies at some western stations increase, but at a loss of direct services from Iver to Taplow, Twyford and Reading. Passengers travelling from stations between Canary Wharf and Abbey Wood will see wait times slightly increase from five minutes between services currently, to six minutes at peak and seven and a half off-peak, but will improve again once the railway is in its final configuration – in May 2023.

Bond Street station is still due to open before the November change comes into effect. Fire safety testing was completed at the end of August, and staff familiarisation with the station has started. The exact opening date has not been confirmed though.


Financially, the Crossrail project is currently expected to cost £15,887.5 million, but has funding for £15,789 million, leaving a gap of just under £100 million to find. At the moment, it’s expected that the TfL funding agreement with the government includes an additional £50 million to complete the Elizabeth line, and the Crossrail project is in talks with the GLA to find the final £48.5 million.

Now that the Elizabeth line is close to final completion, with the May 2023 timetable change being the final major upgrade to the line, the focus switches from building it to running it.

In that, TfL now expects that the Elizabeth line is on target to break even in operating costs to revenues in 2023/24, which is impressive considering that passenger numbers are still recovering from the pandemic. Eventually, the Elizabeth line will turn into a source of operating profit for TfL, which can then use to pay down the debt to build it and to support other TfL services.


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  1. Alex Mckenna says:

    I wonder if anyone has filmed the trains going down Pudding Mill portal?

  2. James Miller says:

    If you look at the detailed track Layouts at Abbey Wood, Royal Oak an Stratford, it looks like they may have been designed, so that trains can go between the Central Tunnel of the Elizabeth Line and the fast lines.

    They would be faster trains, with a maximum speed of 110 mph, so that they wouldn’t slow the traffic on the high speed lines.

    If trains were dimensionally similar to the current Class 345 trains, they could slot in between the 345 trains in the Central Tunnel, stopping at all stations and lining up to the platform edge doors.

    Two suitable services that could run back-to-back across London would be the Paddington and Oxford and the Liverpool Street and Southend Victoria services.

    I was on an Oxford to Paddington train this afternoon and it arrived in Platform 1 at Paddington. I was surprised to see that quite a few passengers dived straight into the Lizzie Line to continue their journey.

    Surely, this would free-up valuable platforms at Paddington and Liverpool Street stations and earn some more revenue for Transport for London.

    It would also add 4 tph to the service in the Central Tunnel.

    This service could probably be easily tested by running an hourly service with the existing trains and counting the number of passengers that were attracted.

    • Jo says:

      Issues here with this plan is,
      A) rolling stock used on the Greater Anglia Mainline and the Great Western Mainline do not line up with the platform edge doors in the ‘core section’ on the Elizabeth Line.
      B) Either further electrification would be needed between Didcot Parkway to Oxford or the procurement of new Bi-Modal metro-style rolling stock would be needed being the same coach length as the Class 345.
      C) The length of the route is a massive issue, This route would be a ‘Thameslink style route’, with it crossing over and merging with so many different mainlines with many different operators. What this means is the timetable would be very fragile, with it being very easy to fall out of its timetabled slot during disruption and causing chaos when entering the ‘core section’. Something which happens often with Thameslink when disruption happens on one of the mainlines.
      D) The rolling stock that would run such a service would have to be compatible with all the signalling software that is used in the Elizabeth Line ‘core section’. We have seen with the Class 345 itself how hard it was for the train to work with the variety of signalling systems used on the line (eventually now works).
      E) Would this be the transfer of service from GWR and GA to TfL or maybe a new operator, if so it would need DfT approval. Or is this in addition to the GWR and GA services that run to such destinations, if so one key issue is on the GWML between London and Reading which runs at or near capacity.
      F) Running a Class 345 to test this route out wouldn’t go down well with the public with both the layout of the train and that it would increase journey times with the speed limitation
      G) It may free up platforms at both Paddington and Liverpool Street but the ‘paths’ would still be used as this service would be occurring just instead of going through the Elizabeth Line ‘core section’ (assuming GWR & GA services transfer over) as such its not like any additional service can be created.

      This is what issues that have come to mind with this idea, if though I have misunderstood or misread anything do say so.

  3. Jeff Stelling says:

    Are there plans to run the Elizabeth line later than 11pm?

  4. Nigello says:

    The only time I was on it – not too long after opening – there was no visual display in carriages, which I thought sad and annoying, given the fanfare and ample time to, err, get things right.

  5. John in Oz says:

    “There’s not a lot that can be done about the humans though.”

    Replace them with new ones or give them a new software update perhaps. Easier than fixing the trains.

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