The minutes ahead of a Crossrail board meeting have been published and give an overview of where the project is at the moment.
The pre-Trial Running tests, Systems Integration Dynamic Testing (SIDT) started early last December and allowed them to increase the number of trains running through the tunnels from four to eight. That meant running trains with 5-minute gaps, close to how the service will open with its initial 12 trains per hour each way.
The tests uncovered a number of signalling and train software issues, some of which were fixed over the Christmas period, and SIDT restarted on 13th January. One of the advantages of running SIDT in the gap between testing and full Trial Running is that it helps to iron out more bugs and has the potential to reduce how long Trial Running needs to last.
The next stage is Trial Running, which is scheduled for “as soon in 2021 as possible”, which is when the railway formally ceases to be a construction site and is treated as a live railway.
While the trains weren’t in testing over Christmas, they held another construction “blockade” to catch up on delays caused by the pandemic lockdowns.
Crossrail reports that a significant amount of asset labelling was undertaken, alongside Canary Wharf station works on its low voltage power system, key maintenance works on overhead line equipment, testing of radio systems and portal cameras, Network Rail fringe works, closing out snagging and defect works, and asset data across Plumstead Maintenance Facility and the South East spur.
All the ventilation shafts were handed over to TfL as targeted prior to the Christmas break. Plumstead Depot is now forecast for handover by the end of this month.
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In the central stations, Farringdon is now being handed over to TfL, while Paddington, Tottenham Court Road, Liverpool Street and Woolwich stations have all now achieved Staged Completion 3 (SC3) status. Bond Street is still behind schedule.
The formal handover of the stations to TfL is expected to be in the order of Paddington, Tottenham Court Road, Woolwich and Abbey Wood followed by Liverpool Street, Canary Wharf, Whitechapel and Bond Street.
Meanwhile, the majority of London Underground maintenance training has already been completed for the central stations, leaving just Paddington and Bond Street to complete.
The existing mainline platforms at Liverpool Street also need to be extended to allow for 9-car trains to use them, and initial work on that took place over Christmas, with more planned for Easter. The works are expected to be completed by the end of this year.
Their project assurance team says that the schedule and cost for completing Crossrail are under significant pressure but the publicised opening timeframe remains intact. There is a risk though that the opening date of the first half of 2022 could slip to the latter end of that opening window.
There is potential to cut the delay by bringing forward Trial Running at the cost of some operational restrictions later on. The Crossrail team have been on record previously as saying they are working to identify anything that can be pushed back to after the line opens so that more effort is focusing on opening the line and dealing with minor adjustments later.
The board meeting is due to take place this Friday.