Fur­ther test­ing prompts post­poned Cross­rail open­ing

Rail (UK) - - Network News - Richard Clin­nick As­sis­tant Ed­i­tor richard.clin­nick@bauer­me­dia.co.uk @Clin­nick1

CROSS­RAIL trains will not be run­ning through cen­tral Lon­don this De­cem­ber, as had been planned.

In­stead, trains will start run­ning in au­tumn 2019. Cross­rail said the de­lay was needed “to com­plete the fi­nal in­fra­struc­ture and ex­ten­sive test­ing re­quired to en­sure the El­iz­a­beth Line [as it will be known] opens as a safe and re­li­able rail­way”.

Ser­vices had been due to run from Abbey Wood to Lon­don Padding­ton low level sta­tion from De­cem­ber 2018, serv­ing new sta­tions at Bond Street, Ca­nary Wharf, Custom House, Far­ring­don, Liver­pool Street, Tot­ten­ham Court Road, Whitechapel and Wool­wich.

Lon­don Un­der­ground Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor Mark Wild said: “We will con­tinue to work closely with Cross­rail Ltd as they com­plete the re­main­ing rail­way in­fra­struc­ture work and test­ing needed to de­liver the new rail­way. The de­layed open­ing is dis­ap­point­ing, but en­sur­ing the El­iz­a­beth Line is safe and re­li­able for our cus­tomers from day one is of para­mount im­por­tance.”

Spokesman Peter MacLen­nan told RAIL on Septem­ber 4 that Cross­rail had for­mally no­ti­fied the De­part­ment for Trans­port about the de­lay on Au­gust 30, fol­low­ing a de­ci­sion by the Cross­rail board the pre­vi­ous day.

The project’s costs had al­ready risen from £14.8 bil­lion to £15.4bn in re­cent months, and MacLen­nan added: “Cross­rail will now work closely with Trans­port for Lon­don and De­part­ment for Trans­port to es­tab­lish whether the re­vised sched­ule has any po­ten­tial ad­di­tional im­pact on fund­ing.”

He said the ex­tent of the sit­u­a­tion be­came ap­par­ent as teams pro­gressed fur­ther through the test­ing phase, adding: “A fi­nal view was formed in Au­gust fol­low­ing a com­pre­hen­sive re­view of the re­main­ing pro­gramme.”

No one sin­gle el­e­ment has caused the de­lay, he said. “The El­iz­a­beth Line is one of the most com­plex and chal­leng­ing in­fra­struc­ture projects ever un­der­taken in the UK and brings to­gether mul­ti­ple con­tracts, new rolling stock and three dif­fer­ent sig­nalling sys­tems.

“The orig­i­nal pro­gramme for test­ing has been com­pressed by more time be­ing needed by con­trac­tors to com­plete fit-out ac­tiv­ity in the cen­tral tun­nels and the de­vel­op­ment of rail­way sys­tems soft­ware.”

Trans­port Se­lect Com­mit­tee Chair­man Lil­ian Green­wood said: “Pas­sen­gers have al­ready waited a long time for the ben­e­fits that Cross­rail will bring, and will be deeply dis­ap­pointed by news that the open­ing of the line will be de­layed.

“Clearly the timetable has slipped, and it is best to spend time en­sur­ing it can open suc­cess­fully rather than rush­ing to bring it into ser­vice with a greater risk of it not work­ing prop­erly.

“TfL and the De­part­ment for Trans­port are both project spon­sors, and a sig­nif­i­cant amount of pub­lic money has been spent on Cross­rail. It’s vi­tal that both take steps to un­der­stand what has led to these de­lays, so that lessons can be learned and ap­plied in other large and com­plex trans­port in­fra­struc­ture projects.”

Lon­don Assem­bly Trans­port Com­mit­tee Chair­man Caro­line Pid­geon MBE said: “It is dis­ap­point­ing that the de­ci­sion

to de­lay the launch of Cross­rail has been an­nounced at such late no­tice. It is scarcely be­liev­able that the Mayor, TfL and Cross­rail did not know of a likely de­lay a long time ago and chose not to let Lon­don­ers know sooner.

“The open­ing of the El­iz­a­beth Line is rightly her­alded as the big­gest leap in Lon­don’s trans­port ca­pac­ity for a gen­er­a­tion. It will im­prove con­nec­tions to the east and west of Lon­don and re­lieve crowd­ing in cen­tral Lon­don. Pas­sen­gers will be left to wait even longer for these ben­e­fits.

“We will be seek­ing an ur­gent meet­ing with the Mayor’s Of­fice, TfL and Cross­rail to find out what has led to this de­lay and get some answers on be­half of Lon­don­ers.”

Lon­don Assem­bly Bud­get and Per­for­mance Com­mit­tee Chair­man Gareth Ba­con added: “This is ba­si­cally a sham­bles. Trans­port for Lon­don’s man­age­ment have clearly known that they would de­lay the open­ing of Cross­rail for some time, yet have been elu­sive when dis­cussing their fi­nan­cial woes with the Lon­don Assem­bly and so with the peo­ple of Lon­don.

“TfL’s own busi­ness plan says that £143 mil­lion of fare rev­enue was ex­pected from the cen­tral sec­tion in 2018-19 alone.

“This now leaves an even big­ger hole in TfL’s fi­nances. It al­ready has a £1bn op­er­at­ing deficit for this year - hun­dreds of mil­lions fur­ther will be lost in the com­ing year.”

When open, the line will add 10% to cen­tral Lon­don’s rail ca­pac­ity, and boost the cap­i­tal’s econ­omy by around £42bn.

When the cen­tral sec­tion of the El­iz­a­beth Line opens in au­tumn 2019, the rail­way will ini­tially op­er­ate as three sep­a­rate ser­vices as planned: Padding­ton (El­iz­a­beth Line sta­tion) to Abbey Wood via cen­tral Lon­don; Padding­ton (main line sta­tion) to Heathrow (Ter­mi­nals 2, 3 and 4); Liver­pool Street (main line sta­tion) to Shen­field.

ANTONY GUPPY.

On May 10, TfL Rail 345014/020/024 stand in­side Old Oak Com­mon de­pot. The ‘345s’ have been or­dered for the Cross­rail project, and were due to be­gin car­ry­ing pas­sen­gers through cen­tral Lon­don from De­cem­ber, but that has been de­layed by at least nine months.

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