Completion of the Elizabeth line has reached a significant milestone with the Trial Operations stage now taking place.
Trial Operations allow the railway to show that it has achieved high levels of safety and reliability before it can start carrying customers. This is the final phase of the programme before the line opens for passenger services between Paddington and Abbey Wood in the first half of 2022.
During December and over the Christmas period further software adjustments will take place to the train, signalling, and tunnel ventilation systems.
More than 150 scenarios will be carried out over the coming months, including exercises to make sure that all systems and procedures work effectively, that staff can respond to any incidents including customers being unwell, and signal failures.
In the new year, a series of more complex exercises will be carried out, including using thousands of staff to practice evacuation of trains and stations. The final stage ahead of the line”s formal opening will include a period of “shadow running” when timetabled services operate.
It will take several months to complete the final phase. Before passenger services can start, trial operations must continue until it is shown that the line can operate at the highest levels of safety and reliability. Only then will a specific opening date be announced for the line to open.
Trial Operations will also involve other organisations, including London Underground and Transport for London, MTR Elizabeth line, Network Rail, and the emergency services, all working together to respond to the trial scenarios.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Reaching the start of Trial Operations is a significant milestone in the delivery of the Elizabeth line, and it”s really exciting to be moving into this phase.
“The next few months are crucial to making sure the railway can open safely next year, and everyone is working incredibly hard to reach that goal.
“The Elizabeth line will help transform travel in London and the South East, dramatically improving transport links, supporting regeneration and boosting our economic recovery.”
Andy Byford, Transport for London’s Commissioner, said: “Everyone is working hard to make sure we can open the Elizabeth line safely and reliably in the first half of 2022.
“The project continues to have my full, personal attention, and with huge progress made to date, it is great to now enter this final stretch.
“The Trial Operations phase will see staff really get to grips with all aspects of this complex and transformational railway to ensure we are ready to welcome customers next year.”
Minister Baroness Vere said: “I’m pleased that a key milestone has been achieved with the start of Trial Operations – a crucial, final step to ensure the highest standards of performance and safety of the railway, ahead of the Elizabeth line opening to passengers next year.”
Mark Wild, Crossrail Chief Executive, said: “We are delighted to have reached the next key stage in delivery of the Elizabeth line with the start of Trial Operations.
“It will take several months to complete this final phase. This is an immensely complex railway and we must be able to demonstrate the highest levels of reliability.
“Everyone is working hard to deliver the Elizabeth line as soon as practically possible and we remain on track to commence passenger services in the first half of 2022.”
When the Elizabeth line opens, it will initially operate as three separate railways: from the west to Paddington, the central section of the route, and from the east to Liverpool Street. The latest plans are that services from Reading, Heathrow, and Shenfield will connect with the central tunnels as soon as possible after the opening of the central section of the railway. The earliest expected date for this is autumn 2022, but no later than May 2023 when the final timetable will be in place.