Passenger services on London’s Crossrail project are set to open in the first half of 2022, Transport for London (TfL) has confirmed.
The railway, which will be called the Elizabeth line once it opens, will initially operate between Abbey Wood and Paddington through new tunnels under central London.
TfL said that “significant progress” was made towards completing the new railway over Christmas, with the first phase of its trial operations coming to an end.
The project was due to open in December 2018, at a cost of £14.8bn, but this has risen to £20bn.
Crossrail said delays were due to major challenges with software, track signalling and installing equipment.
“Its brand new trains and step-free stations will help us deliver a modern, truly world-class transport system that allows us to support the growth in London’s population over the coming decades.
“That’s why I’m delighted it is on track to open in the first half of 2022, in what will be a landmark moment for the capital.”
Andy Byford, Transport for London’s commissioner, said: “This is an extremely exciting year for us and for London as we get ever closer to opening the Elizabeth line and welcoming customers from Abbey Wood to Paddington.
“The launch of this much needed and transformational addition to the transport network will be central to the recovery for London and the UK. Customers will experience a new way of travelling – with brand new, spacious step-free stations and new connections across the capital and beyond.
“There will be no better symbol of London’s renaissance from the pandemic.”
The next phase of trial operations will see thousands of staff from TfL, Network Rail and other partner organisations take part in exercises to test timetables and simulate scenarios such as evacuations from trains and stations.
As a result, there will be times where police, fire and ambulance service vehicles may be seen near stations.
Crossrail bosses say that services from Reading, Heathrow and Shenfield will connect with the central tunnels from autumn 2022.
The full timetable is scheduled to launch by May 2023.