In its quarterly update, the Crossrail project has confirmed that work is now 83% complete and a new milestone will be reached shortly.
The milestone will be the introduction of new trains entering passenger service on the TfL rail route between Liverpool Street and Shenfield.
It forms part of the phased introduction for what will be the Elizabeth line, scheduled to open in December 2018.
These trains will be some of the most advanced of their kind on the UK’s rail system. Not only will they be easier to maintain and more reliable, but they’ll be more efficient too.
Once fully operational, it will increase the city centre’s rail capacity by 10%, which will make room for an additional 1.5 million passengers.
Crossrail will serve 40 stations and passengers can expect up to 24 trains each hour – in both directions.
Work is also focusing on the development of these 40 stations. All over the capital, tunnels, shafts and portals will be fitted with cables, and ventilation fans.
Communication and signalling systems will also be added in order to ensure the railway can operate.
It’s also worth pointing out just how important a project this has been for the UK workforce. To date, almost 700 apprentices have worked on the Crossrail project, while businesses have also benefited given that 96% of contracts were awarded to those in the UK.
The local economy in particular has thrived – since the start of the development, more than 4,700 local or unemployed people have worked on Crossrail.
Stations and tunnels will come to life throughout the year, as the project continues to meet its deadlines.
Once the new trains have entered passenger service, the next important milestone will be in May 2018 when TfL opens a rail service between Paddington and Heathrow, which will replace the Heathrow Connect service as well as part of the Great Western inner suburban service.
The Elizabeth line will open in December 2018 with three separate services operational: Paddington to Abbey Wood, Paddington to Heathrow, Liverpool Street to Shenfield.
May 2019 will see the start of direct services between Paddington to Shenfield, and Paddington to Abbey Wood.
This will lead on to December 2019 when the Elizabeth line is fully open, complete with services from Reading and Heathrow in the west to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east via the central tunnels.