By now, Crossrail should have been up and running for a month and a half. But how's it really doing? Papers prepared for next week's TfL board meeting state the following...
Since Crossrail Limited announced in August 2018 that the central section of the Elizabeth line (Paddington through to Abbey Wood) will not open in December 2018 as originally planned, Crossrail, TfL, and MTR (the operator) have been carrying out a review to determine the priority tasks needed to open the central section as soon as possible.
A progress review has been underway for at least four months.
Following the review, Crossrail will provide a revised schedule to open the central section and open the full Elizabeth line, from Reading and Heathrow in the west to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east as soon as practicable after that.
The review's not yet finished, so no future dates have been set.
Crossrail has made progress on developing a revised delivery plan and has identified two critical paths to opening the central section of the Elizabeth line between Paddington and Abbey Wood.
Two entirely separate delays are holding things up, one technical, the other physical.
The first is completing the installation of railway systems along the route, start and finish dynamic testing and carry out trial running and trial operations. The second is completing and integrating all works and associated safety assurance documentation in the stations, shafts and portals.
A lot of crucial processes are incomplete.
The completion of the rail systems infrastructure in the tunnels remains a key issue and productivity has been disappointing.
Signalling is the biggest problem of all.
Any outstanding work remaining after the start of Main Dynamic Testing (MDT) will have to be undertaken around the testing programme and the plan for MDT reserves some time for this.
The forced overlap of installation and testing wasn't planned, and isn't ideal.
Crossrail started MDT on 14 January 2019, which allows for integrated systems tests with trains running at full speed through the tunnels.
The testing of trains has only just started, five weeks after the line was supposed to have opened.
The initial tests involve a single train completing a number of planned tests.
So far, testing involves just one train.
It is obviously very early in the testing programme, but so far the train and rail systems have been stable and tests successfully completed. The forward programme of tests in the coming weeks includes testing with multiple trains in the tunnel and also the transitions to the Network Rail infrastructure.
There is a heck of a lot more testing still to go.
Crossrail’s focus for the completion of stations, shafts and portals has been to focus on the dates (a programme milestone called “TOSD”) for the substantial demobilisation of Tier 1 contractors.
Stations aren't yet complete, so the current focus is 'substantial demobilisation'.
It is encouraging that these dates have been achieved for Custom House, Woolwich, Farringdon, Whitechapel platform areas and several shafts and portals.
Substantial demobilisation has not been achieved at Paddington, Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road and Liverpool Street
Achieving the remaining TOSD dates in the next six months is a key programme priority.
It is by no means certain that Paddington, Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road and Liverpool Street will be complete by the end of July 2019.
Crossrail has continued to develop a reprioritisation of tasks and integration activities across the programme that will provide the basis of a new schedule and opening date.
Don't expect a revised opening date for Crossrail, let alone an opening, any time soon.
And TfL were totally in the dark about all of this until the end of August, honest.