Crossrail Ltd has confirmed that it plans to open the central section of the Elizabeth line between Paddington and Abbey Wood in summer 2021.
In the latest update on progress to complete the major infrastructure project, the forecast is based on the progress that has been made with completing software development for signalling and train systems, as well as safety assurances for the railway.
The latter paves the way for intensive operational testing this year – which will commence at the earliest possible date.
Development of the Elizabeth line has been dogged by uncertainty and delays; initially, the railway was meant to open in December 2018, but it became apparent that it wouldn’t happen.
The opening date was pushed back to autumn 2019, but that changed again when a business plan early in 2019 identified a delivery window with a midpoint at the end of 2020.
However, the goalposts have moved again, with 2021 the targeted opening data; financially too, the project has overrun, though Crossrail Ltd say that the project will be delivered within the additional funding range of between £400 million to £650 million more than the revised funding agreed at the end of 2018.
Crossrail Ltd maintain that solid progress is being made, with tunnels and track work finished, and most stations nearing completion.
Full services across the Elizabeth line route from Reading and Heathrow in the west to Abbey Wood and Shenfield in the east will commence by mid-2022.
Mark Wild, Chief Executive of Crossrail Ltd, said: “Our latest assessment is that Elizabeth line services through central London will commence in summer 2021 but we are aiming to open the railway as soon as we can.
“The key focus for everyone on the Crossrail project is commencing intensive testing of the Elizabeth line as soon as we can in 2020, to enable passenger service as early as possible in 2021.”