A report to be presented to the Transport for London board’s Programmes and Investment Committee next week handily sets out the steps involved in converting the Crossrail construction project into the Elizabeth line ready for the service’s 2019 opening.
Culled from the full report, which is available here, are the key highlights:
Stage 1 is the introduction of the first of the new Class 345 trains to run on existing tracks between Liverpool Street and Shenfield from May 2017.
Class 345 testing between Liverpool Street and Shenfield commenced 13 January. In addition to the test train, based at Ilford, five further units have been completed and are undergoing testing at Bombardier’s factory at Derby or at the Network Rail (NR) test track at Melton.
A critical part of the construction and introduction are the multiple on-board systems and the complex software (the Train Control and Management System) that integrates them. Successive software releases are tested at Derby before installation on the test trains and then on the units running on the network. The final stage prior to passenger service is Independent Safety Assessment (ISA) and Office of Rail and Road (ORR) approval.
The ‘test’ trains carry additional equipment and will be returned to the factory for refitting before they are ready for passengers. The first unit that is fully fitted out for passenger service (345005) is scheduled to be delivered to Ilford at the end of February 2017, in time for on-network running and driver training in advance of entry into full service at the end of May.
Two train simulators, currently based at Ilford are in use for driver training and allow a degree of familiarity with the cab and route to be gained in advance of train delivery.
A critical component of the programme for introduction of the Class 345 is work by NR to adjust platform edges and provide other equipment at stations on the route. Significant progress was made over the Christmas 2016 Blockade with the remaining work taking place overnight and whilst the railway is closed at weekends. All works are scheduled to be complete by March 2017.
Work at Ilford Depot to accommodate the new trains is also nearing completion. The test trains will be accommodated in existing sidings but the new sidings, provided specifically for Crossrail units are expected to be available for use in May 2017.
Stage 2 in May 2018 will provide four trains per hour between Paddington and Heathrow replacing the current two trains per hour Heathrow Connect service, operating to Terminals 2/3 and Terminal 4.
For Stage 2 the Class 345 train will be upgraded by Bombardier to operate with European Train Control System (ETCS) signalling, as the tracks between Heathrow and Stockley (where trains join the current Great Western Main Line) are amongst the first in the UK to be fitted with this system. NR is making good progress fitting the equipment to the ‘wayside’ (track). This is provided by Alstom. Following laboratory testing this will be integrated and tested with the train in the second half of 2017.
Stage 2 also requires work to the tracks and stations. There are significant platform works to be undertaken, including adjustment of heights, to allow successful introduction of the new trains to the route. NR is shortly to finalise its integrated plan for the necessary works.
The main depot for the train fleet is at Old Oak Common, where the maintenance building is structurally complete and track laying and fit out of systems and equipment is underway.
The first section of the depot is planned to be ready in the Autumn to receive the trains that will operate to and from Heathrow from May 2018.
Finally, with respect to Stage 2, suitable track access agreements need to be in place to operate on the Heathrow branch.
In December 2018 (Stage 3) services commence in the Crossrail central tunnel, operating between Paddington (new underground platforms) and Abbey Wood, via the West End, City and Canary Wharf. From this date services will be referred to as the Elizabeth line.
The first tranche of apprentices who will work on operations and maintenance of the central section the line started training in 2016. Specialised track maintenance trains are currently being assembled for delivery in the first half of 2018.
In May 2019 (Stage 4) Shenfield to Liverpool Street services are connected into the central tunnel section to run as far as Paddington.
Finally, in December 2019 services from the west are connected into the central tunnel and Crossrail trains are extended in the west to Maidenhead and Reading. This is the final phase (Stage 5) of Crossrail service introduction.