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'Significant moment' as London's Crossrail tests trains on track
13 May 2021, 07:33 | Updated: 13 May 2021, 10:21
London's Crossrail is testing trains on the track ahead of a planned 2022 opening, four years behind schedule.
Four trains per hour now operating through central tunnels of the Elizabeth Line as part of major trails happening on the £19 billion transport link into the Capital.
A Crossrail spokesperson said this was a "crucial moment in the project" with the railway set to open fully in the first six months of next year.
The project, which aims to link Reading and Essex and provide a faster way into Central London, was initially meant to open in 2018, but complications in linking three different stretches of railway - all which run on separate signalling systems - has caused repeated delays.
The costs of the project have also spiralled, with the original £14.8 billion cost rising to £18.8 billion.
Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, said: “Safely delivering the Elizabeth line as soon as possible is one of my top priorities, so I’m really pleased that Trial Running is now underway.
"The whole Crossrail team are doing all they can to get the railway open and ensure London and the wider South East can enjoy its many benefits sooner rather than later.”
Mark Wild, Crossrail Chief Executive, said: “We have now started the Trial Running of trains on the Elizabeth line and this is an incredibly significant moment.
"It marks the moment when our focus shifts to commissioning of the new railway and it puts us firmly on the path to Trial Operations and ultimately the opening of the Elizabeth line.
“I want to thank everyone who has worked so hard over many years to get us to this point. There have been real challenges along the way but the start of Trial Running is an important milestone for the Elizabeth line and for London.”
Crossrail will steadily ramp up the numbers of trains running in the 42km of tunnels that have been built below London and on the existing rail network to allow the railway and the supporting systems to be operated as close as possible to an operational timetable.
Tottenham Court Road station has also now finished being revamped, ahead of becoming one of the networks busiest interchange stations between Northern, Central and Elizabeth line services.