Finally, the tunnelled section of PS19bn through central London is ready for passengers
London's Elizabeth Line will open on May 24, according to an announcement. The long-delayed tunnelled central portion of the PS19bn Crossrail project is now available for passengers.
Transport for London (TfL), stated that the line would be open subject to safety approvals. This was one week before the Queen's jubilee celebrations.
This line will significantly increase transport capacity in London, south-east England and other areas. It will also reduce journey times.
Initial operations of the Elizabeth line will be as three separate railways. The overground services, which are already operating as TfL Rail in west and east, will join the centre. From Monday through Saturday, the new underground section will operate 12 trains per hour between Paddington Station and Abbey Wood between 6.30am to 11pm.
Engineering will continue throughout the night and on Sundays with testing and software upgrades to enable more intensive services. 22 trains per hour will be running in peak times in central London later this year.
Andy Byford, TfL's commissioner who staked his reputation by completing the line prior to the 30 June deadline he inherits after Crossrail's construction delays multiplied, stated: "We use these last few weeks to continue building up reliability on the railway, and get the Elizabeth Line ready for customers.
"The opening day will be a historic moment in the UK capital, and we look forward showcasing a stunning addition to our network."
Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, stated that the opening of Elizabeth Line would make London a safer, more prosperous, and greener place for all Londoners.
He stated that "this is the most significant enhancement to our transport network for decades and will revolutionise the travel across the capital, the south-east and beyond - and deliver a PS42bn boost the entire UK economy as well as hundreds of thousands more homes and jobs.
"Green public transport is the future, and the Elizabeth line opening is a landmark moment in our capital and for the country as a whole, especially in this special platinum year."
The Elizabeth line was initially scheduled to open under central London in December 2018. However, Crossrail's executives acknowledged that the project was way behind schedule just months before it was officially opened. The project, which included 10 new stations and 26-miles of tunnels, cost more than PS14.8bn.
Crossrail's complex signalling system, which integrates three systems, has contributed to some of the delays and costs. The central tunnels will allow trains to run without any manual intervention. However, they will need to be switched to different signalling systems for the eastern section of the railway that runs to Shenfield as well as on the line to Reading and Heathrow to the west.
Passengers on existing TfL Rail outer branches must change at Paddington and Liverpool Street stations until the system is fully operational. The central section will be crossed by trains from the east and west later in the year. Services running all the way through are expected next year.
In the coming weeks more signs bearing the purple livery for the Elizabeth line will be discovered, along with an updated tube map showing connections with other parts of the TfL network. East London will see bus services changed to connect with new stations.
Crossrail's Bond Street station will not be available for Elizabeth Line services. However, TfL stated that there has been "good progress" in the construction of the station and that it should be operational by 2022.