Rossrail has taken a significant step forward with the start of a final round of dress rehearsal tests, Mayor Sadiq Khan said on Monday.
The long-delayed and off-budget line, which should have opened in December 2018, entered the operating phase on Saturday.
This involves simulating more than 150 real-world problems, from signal failures to unwell passengers, a process that will take three to four months.
Six mass evacuation tests, involving thousands of staff and volunteers, will be delayed until the New Year due to issues with the tunnel’s ventilation system.
The line, the cost of which has risen from $ 4 billion to over $ 20 billion, is expected to open by June. A specific opening date should not be announced for several months.
Mr Khan said: Reaching the start of test operations is an important milestone in the delivery of the Elizabeth Line. The next few months are crucial to ensure that the railroad can safely open next year.
Last week, Crossrail bosses officially gave up hope of an opening by Christmas or early next year when they said the opening window was now between February and June.
It has also emerged that Bond Street station may not be able to fully open when trains finally start to run.
TfL commissioner Andy Byford does not want Bond Street delaying the launch of Elizabeth Line services and has asked staff to study the feasibility of a partial opening of the station.
He said: There are two ticket halls, one east ticket hall and one west ticket hall.
Could we, should we open with a single ticket booth, given that there won’t be as many customers using the station as we initially envisioned, due to the lingering impacts of covid, potential orders from home stay, etc.
Passengers could still interchange with the Jubilee and Central lines but, with platforms over 200m long, would face a longer walk to Oxford Street.
The cost of building Bond Street station, the most expensive on the line, had climbed to 680m.
That’s more than five times the original estimate of 126 million and 65% higher than the 412 million bill three years ago.
The total cost of Crossrail reached $ 18.9 billion, not including the $ 1.1 billion cost of the new trains and the Old Oak Common depot.
Before the pandemic, TfL had hoped to generate 500 million in annual profits from Crossrail. This is recalculated as part of TfL’s latest bid for a government bailout.
The problems at Bond Street date back to a year of delay in the twin underground tunnels reaching the station.
Resort contractor Costain Skanska by mutual consent resigned last year after covid caused further problems, with TfL paying $ 19million to terminate the contract.
Crossrail chief executive Mark Wild said if Bond Street had not been introduced internally the final bill could have been 775m.
Construction is expected to be completed on Bond Street by February, but the process of integrating with the railroad could take several weeks. The challenges include the tunnel ventilation system and the platform edge doors.
Mr Wild said: We are still not out of the woods on Bond Street. Recovering from an 18-month slip is not at all easy.
You might see Bond Street open with the railroad, but it all depends on when we open the railroad.
Nick Rogers, Conservative member of the London Assembly, said: It is disappointing that Bond Street is still lagging behind the Crossrail project.
This station is crucial for the Elizabeth Line, so it must open when service finally begins. TfL’s plan to partially open the station isn’t ideal, but I guess it’s better than nothing.
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