Passenger services on London’s Crossrail project are set to open by June 30, Transport for London (TfL) has confirmed.
The new Tube, which will be called the Elizabeth line, will initially operate between Abbey Wood and Paddington, via Canary Wharf, Tottenham Court Road and Bond Street.
The project was due to open in December 2018, at a cost of £14.8billion, but this has now risen to a whopping £20bn.
Crossrail said delays were due to major challenges with software, track signalling and installing equipment.
LondonWorld took an Elizabeth line train from Paddington to Canary Wharf as part of a media visit ahead of the launch.
“I can guarantee Crossrail will open in the first half of 2022. That means we will open by June 30,” Andy Byford, TfL’s commissioner, said.
“This is a fully accessible state of the art railway that I think will be the envy of the world.
“It adds something like 10% capacity to London’s transport network.
“It’s clean, it’s spacious, it’s modern and there are very fast journey times.
“It’s a real game changer for London and it really gives London a competitive advantage in that you’ll be able to go from Canary Wharf and the city to Heathrow, our primary international gateway, in around 40 minutes.
“The fact that we’ve had the pandemic will certainly affect the projected ridership, but we’re very confident that as London and the UK for that matter begin to emerge from the pandemic, that customer numbers will rapidly increase.
“I think what we will find is that people who currently use the Central line will migrate across to use the Elizabeth line, with the additional benefits that this line brings, so I guarantee we will open by the first half of the year.
“We will not open within that window until I’m certain that we can be super reliable, so we can spend the next few critical weeks driving the trains up and down to iron out all the bugs.”
The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “The Elizabeth line will transform travel across London and the South East, benefiting millions and supporting hundreds of thousands of new homes and jobs.
“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.”
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.