Crossrail has reached it trial operations phase — the final phase before opening to the public (hopefully) in 2022.
Although some sections of Crossrail — or the Elizabeth line as we can call it when it's fully operational — have already been running for some time in everything but name, the large central chunk between Paddington and Abbey Wood has suffered various setbacks, and is yet to open.
What are trial operations? It's putting trains, tracks, stations and staff through over 150 scenarios, ensuring everything's up to code ahead of opening to the public. Exercises, TfL tells us, include checking all systems and procedures work effectively, and that staff can respond to incidents — everything from poorly customers to signal failures.
From early 2022, trial operations ramp up a notch, with thousands of staff and volunteers drafted in to mock up evacuations of trains and stations.
The very final step sees 'shadow running', which is when timetabled train services run, ahead of any passengers getting on them.
Mark Wild, Crossrail Chief Executive, has warned: "It will take several months to complete this final phase. This is an immensely complex railway and we must be able to demonstrate the highest levels of reliability."
Still, TfL continues to promise that the line will be fully functional in the 'first half of 2022', allowing something of a cushion for final niggles.
The latest news will be music to the ears of Londoners, but we've been burned before, and won't believe the Elizabeth line is real until we ride it.