diamond geezer

 Sunday, May 19, 2019

Today's the day.

Sunday 19th May 2019 was supposed to be the day that Crossrail connected up to Shenfield.

Nah, not even close.

According to long-established timelines, purple trains should already have been shuttling between Paddington and Abbey Wood for the last 23 weeks. As we all know, this did not happen.

Today was going to be the day that Crossrail's second arm came into being, with trains bearing off after Whitechapel towards Stratford, Ilford and beyond. Technically speaking the day the Central Section Passenger Service linked up to the Great Eastern Surface Section. Proper Crossrail, with just the extension to Reading to go. Not a chance.

Today the platform indicators at Bond Street should have been showing alternating eastbound trains for the first time... Shenfield/Abbey Wood/Shenfield/Abbey Wood. Not only is that not happening, but Bond Street is so far behind schedule it could never have happened anyway.

I'd long been looking forward to hopping onto a train at Stratford today and disappearing through the Pudding Mill Portal to destinations like Farringdon, Tottenham Court Road and Paddington. No further, because the connection at Paddington wasn't due to happen until Sunday 15th December 2019, but of course that won't be happening either.

Today's also the day every Crossrail station from Stratford out to Shenfield should have been completed with upgraded entrances and step-free access, but this hasn't happened either. Maryland, Forest Gate, Manor Park and Seven Kings made the deadline, as did Brentwood and Shenfield further out.

But at Harold Wood the front entrance remains closed and passengers have to enter via a temporary gateway up the side of the eastbound platform, then lumber over the footbridge to head into town. Lifts at Gidea Park and Chadwell Heath are also not yet ready. And at Goodmayes the ticket office is still lodged in a stack of portakabins out front which blocks the pavement, and looks nothing like the final picture on the Crossrail website.

At least passengers on the Shenfield arm are getting to use their stations while they wait. Purple trains with TfL Rail branding have been running into Liverpool Street (high level) since 2017, and will continue to do so for some time. But Woolwich's Crossrail station remains non-functional, Canary Wharf's is still just a shopping centre, and the front entrance to Whitechapel hasn't even re-opened yet for District and Overground services. Everything's still really really behind schedule. We know this.

As a proper kick in the teeth, today trains are skipping Maryland, Forest Gate and Manor Park "to allow for testing of trains transitioning between Crossrail tunnels and Network Rail infrastructure." The poor folk along what should today be Crossrail East have suffered dozens and dozens of weekend engineering closures over the past few years, and on the very day the whole thing was supposed to open they're again being told to get the bus.

Worse, we still have no idea when the Whitechapel - Stratford connection will be made. Stage 1 from Abbey Wood to Paddington is pencilled in for New Years Eve 2020 plus or minus three months. Nobody has dared give a date for Stage 2, save that it'll be after Stage 1, so likely some time in 2021. Two years after the day it was supposed to happen.

Which was today.

I doubt that anybody official will be reminding you of this.

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