Earlier this week TfL said line might not open until end of 2021

Crossrail has said it plans to open the central section of the £18bn railway in summer 2021 – up to six months earlier than Transport for London is planning for.

Earlier this week, outgoing TfL commissioner Mike Brown said his organisation was planning its finances on the assumption that trains would not start running on the section of the railway that connects Paddington and Abbey Wood until some time between October and December next year.

crossrail station

Source: Transport for London

He said TfL had taken “a very pragmatic look” when planning forecasts.

But Crossrail, which will be officially known as the Elizabeth Line, has now said it believes the crucial central section of the railway will open some months before TfL’s prediction.

Mark Wild, Crossrail chief executive, said: “Our latest assessment is that Elizabeth Line services through central London will commence in summer 2021 but we are aiming to open the railway as soon as we can. This forecast assumes a period of time will be required to undertake intensive operational testing.

“The key focus for everyone on the Crossrail project is commencing intensive testing of the Elizabeth Line as soon as we can in 2020, to enable passenger service as early as possible in 2021.”

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Wild had previously given the line an opening window of between October this year and March 2021.

The crucial trial running phase of testing, which ensures the line is ready for full service, is due to start between June and October of this year and take between nine and 12 months to complete.

This had previously been due to start on 14 February.

He also said Crossrail was ”increasingly confident” that the Costain-Skanska-built Bond Street would be ready to open with the rest of the railway.

Wild also said that he expects full services across the entire route from Reading and Heathrow in the west to Abbey Wood and Shenfield in the east will start by mid-2022.

As these sections of the route need to be integrated in line with Network Rail timetable changes, which take place twice a year, these services will need to start operating on either 12 December 2021 or 15 May 2022 to hit this target.

Wild also said that Crossrail’s detailed cost forecasts continued to show the project will be delivered within the additional funding package announced in November last year.

Earlier this week London mayor Sadiq Khan admitted the extra £400m to £650m the railway needs is yet to be sourced.