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Crossrail (Elizabeth Line)

Published Wednesday, January 23, 2019

This paper provides information on the Crossrail project, including the latest information around its costs and expected timeline for completion.

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Crossrail is the plan to join the mainline railways to the east and west of London through the construction of two tunnels beneath central London from Paddington to Liverpool Street. The project will deliver: a 74-mile railway; 13 miles of new tunnels under London; new, expanded or upgraded stations along the Crossrail route; and a new fleet of trains. When the project is complete, Crossrail services will run from Maidenhead and Heathrow in the west to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east. Overall, it will provide a 10% increase in London’s rail transport capacity.

The railway’s operations will be handed over to Transport for London (TfL) and run as part of London’s integrated transport network. Crossrail services were originally intended to be introduced as follows:

  • Heathrow to Paddington (mainline platforms) – May 2018 (when the Crossrail concession takes over the Heathrow Connect service);
  • Paddington (Crossrail platforms) to Abbey Wood (i.e. the central section of the line) – December 2018;
  • Paddington (Crossrail platforms) to Shenfield – May 2019; and
  • Full through service (including services to Reading) – December 2019.

The opening of the central section of the line was initially delayed to autumn 2019 in August 2018. It became apparent in early December 2018 that the revised opening date was also unrealistic. It remains unclear precisely when the project will be completed. The latest reports suggest that it could be delayed for another two years, driven primarily by delays to operational testing and the integration of the different signalling systems.

The original funding envelope agreed in the 2010 Spending Review was £14.8 billion. Additional funding has been required by both Crossrail Limited and Network Rail to complete this project because of cost overruns. In December 2018, the Government formally announced Crossrail’s third additional cash injection in the form of a loan of up to £1.3 billion to the GLA, which will have to be repaid via a supplement on the business rates. The combined total of the financing arrangements, means that the overall funding envelope for the project is now £17.6 billion, £3.1 billion more than was agreed in the 2010 Comprehensive Spending Review.

Information on other rail projects and aspects of how the railways are run can be found on the Railways Topical Page. A briefing paper on the proposed Crossrail 2 scheme has been published and is also available on the Parliament website.

Commons Briefing papers SN00876

Author: Andrew Haylen

Topic: Railways

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