Covid causes further Crossrail delay

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Crossrail challenges: Bond Street is now the only one not ready for trial running, and in June Crossrail Ltd ended its contract with the Costain Skanska joint venture previously responsible for the station and took over construction directly. This is an earlier view of the platform from late 2019.

A summer 2021 opening of the central section of Crossrail between Paddington and Abbey Wood is no longer achievable, Crossrail Ltd has announced.

The news follows a meeting of the Crossrail board, which considered the impact of Covid-19 on progress to complete the Elizabeth Line. The company says the programme was ‘already challenging’ and that the pandemic ‘has clearly made the existing pressures more acute’. Physical works on Crossrail sites were temporarily paused on 24 March at the outset of the pandemic, as was dynamic testing in the tunnels, although verification and assurance work continued. Dynamic testing in the tunnels resumed on 30 May, followed on 15 June by physical activity at Crossrail sites.

Crossrail Ltd says further work is needed on a detailed recovery plan which re-sequences the remaining work and fully assesses the final implications of Covid-19 on the programme. A blockade of the tunnels is planned during August to complete as much of the remaining physical construction work as possible; presently time each week is divided between physical construction and dynamic testing.

The summer 2021 opening date for the Paddington to Abbey Wood section was set by Crossrail in January, after the company had previously said the opening would be ‘as soon as practically possible in 2021’. Opening had originally been scheduled for December 2018 before a series of delays. Following the Paddington to Abbey Wood opening the full Elizabeth Line, including through service from the central section to Shenfield, Reading and Heathrow, had been scheduled for May 2022.

A key milestone for Crossrail is beginning trial running, which had been planned to start this autumn, and CEO Mark Wild has said the company still hopes to start this before the end of the year. This will be followed by a phase of trial operations before the line can be opened.