The Anonymous Widower

Your First Crossrail Service May Arrive In Time For Christmas

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article in today’s Sunday Times.

I have thought this might happen for a few months.

I wrote project management software for nearly forty years. If you ever used Artemis, that was the system, I wrote in a Suffolk attic.

Artemis helped provide the UK with North Sea oil and gas, by calculating and scheduling the labour requirements.

One problem was that there was so many projects, that there was a severe labour shortage. As a friend, who supported our systems in Aberdeen, told me, you couldn’t get some tradesmen for love or money, as they had all retrained to go offshore.

Shortage of workers is often the reason for projects being late and Crossrail is no exception.

Walk through the City and West End of London along the route of the line and you’ll see endless new office, retail and residential developments around all the stations.

These Central London developments are often luxurious and funded by Sovereign Wealth or similar funds, all of whom have bottomless pockets.

If they need more workers, they just raise wages and they have been stealing them from Crossrail. Consequently Crossrail has had to pay more and has been hemorrhaging cash and getting later.

Many of these buildings are now complete and the workers can be hired by Crossrail to speed up the finishing of the line.

Unless of course, the Mayor and the Councils allow more new buildings to be constructed.

But there is a beneficial effect of the Covids working in favour of Crossrail. It has probably badly damaged forecasts for a new development, that they are being delayed for a few years.

So Crossrail can move towards a finish, which will start to generate revenue for Transport for London.

This page on the Crossrail web site is the Crossrail Project Update for December 2020, which was published on the 14th January 14th 2021.

This video shows Mark Wild, the Chief Executive Officer of Crossrail giving the latest update.

This text accompanies the video.

Delivery of the Elizabeth line is now in its complex final stages and is being completed at a time of great uncertainty due to the risks and potential impacts of further Covid outbreaks. Our focus is on meeting the immediate challenges posed by COVID-19.

We are planning to start intensive operational testing, known as Trial Running, at the earliest opportunity in 2021. It involves multiple trains operating in the central operating section to test the timetable and build reliability, while the final works to the stations are completed. It will take a period of time to fully test the Elizabeth line before it can open for passenger service. This includes a final phase known as Trial Operations involving people being invited onto trains and stations to test real-time service scenarios to ensure the readiness of the railway.

Following the opening of the central section, full services across the Elizabeth line from Reading and Heathrow in the west to Abbey Wood and Shenfield in the east will be introduced. The introduction of full services will be aligned with the National Rail timetable change which occurs twice a year in May and December.

According to this article on Ian Visits, which is entitled An Update On The Crossrail Project Progress. Crossrail is in Systems Integration Dynamic Testing (SIDT), which is described  by Ian like this.

The pre-Trial Running tests, Systems Integration Dynamic Testing (SIDT) started early last December and allowed them to increase the number of trains running through the tunnels from four to eight. That meant running trains with 5-minute gaps, close to how the service will open with its initial 12 trains per hour each way.

Crossrail have produced a video, which describes the train testing.

SIDT restarted after Christmas on the 13th January and once complete, I assume Trial Running will start at the earliest opportunity.

Further sections of the Crossrail Project Update describe Trial Running, Covid-19.

There is also this video of Farringdon station.

When Will Crossrail Open?

Predicting this is difficult, but this article on Building, which is entitled Crossrail  Trial Running Set To Start By March.

These points are from the article.

  • Mark Wild said that trial running will start before the end of March.
  • From the start of trial running to opening will be between six and nine months,
  • It looks like Crossrail will open in the last quarter of 2021.

As it would be nice to open by Christmas to give shopping centres and hospitality a lift, I think that it will open in September or October 2021.

Could Crossrail Open Earlier, If A Shorter Service Were Run?

Some people have said, that Crossrail might be able to open earlier, if it ran initially between say Farringdon and Abbey Wood.

This paragraph from the Crossrail Project Update for December 2020, could be decisive.

All central section stations including Bond Street are certified to support Trial Running. Four of the central section stations have had all of their assets assured and certified as ready for use, the last stage for stations in the Trial Running pathway. The remaining central section stations are scheduled to achieve this by the end of the month.

Does this mean that trial running will start by the end of March and serve all central stations?

Bond Street station certainly seems to have caught up with the others and there is no longer any suggestion it could open a year later.



January 31, 2021 - Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , ,


  1. Its clear Wilde brief from Tfl is not to over promise so they can deliver it earlier than forecast. Its just ludicrous it needs a year to test it anyhow 3mths top open up with a reduced service and build up from there would be best way to test it.

    Comment by Nicholas Lewis | January 31, 2021 | Reply

  2. I wonder who would be the first to complain when their journey is disrupted by a fault coming to light during in-service testing?

    Comment by JohnC | January 31, 2021 | Reply

    • There’s probably plenty of time to do the testing. After all the trains run on two routes fairly reliably now, so it’s only testing the signalling.

      What is delaying Crossrail is finishing the stations.

      I could see a shuttle running between Canary Wharf and Abbey Wood stations, as I think all the stations involved are finished.

      It might be, they wait until Whitechapel is handed over, as that has a crossover, so trains could be turned and perhaps a six trains per hour service could be run between Whitechapel and Abbey Wood.

      There is no crossover until West of Farringdon, which means Farringdon and Moorgate-Liverpool Street need to be finished.

      I suspect that Crossrail are regretting they didn’t build a another crossover. Or they could run to Liverpool Street and use the Whitechapel Crossover.

      Comment by AnonW | January 31, 2021 | Reply

      • Farringdon station has been handed over its the rest of them thats still an issue although when i read that one of there key achievements was labeling assets at stations during the Xmas blockade I do wonder how there were managing this job.

        Apollo Programme was one of the most disparate endeavours of human mankind but they managed to coordinate that across multiple interfaces and achieve the goal without the benefit of modern Project Mgt software. Can’t help feeling Crossrail has massively over complicated things and its ability to manage the monster its created has been underwhelming despite access to modern techniques. Hopefully it will represent one of the point in times where people stand back and really re calibrate requirements for Crossrail 2 so its cost and delivery timescale become politically acceptable.

        Comment by Nicholas Lewis | February 1, 2021

  3. I have been told several times, that modern project management software, is sometimes lacking compared to the systems of the 1980s. Including Artemis!

    Some were flattering me, but I have been given specific examples, where important features were left out from software. I know from my own experience, that some of these features were a nightmare to program.

    Comment by AnonW | February 1, 2021 | Reply

  4. What is the actual status of Whithechapel station, when will it finally be completed ?

    Comment by Wolfgang Maresch | February 1, 2021 | Reply

    • Not sure! I’ll go and have a look tomorrow!

      Comment by AnonW | February 1, 2021 | Reply

  5. I wonder if Wilde was a fan of Star Trek where Scottie had a system of adding extra time to a job and then getting praise from Captain Kirk when it came in early … He was challenged on this in one episode!

    Crossrail will at least have one benefit of being late in that it’s stations won’t still look like building sites like many schemes that come in on time !

    A recent report suggests that central stations will be handed over to TFL in next few months with testing of trains gradually increasing on central section.

    Comment by Melvyn | February 2, 2021 | Reply

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