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The new anticipated Crossrail launch date has been announced, with services on the central section expected to be up and running by March 2021.
Crossrail has identified a "six-month window for delivery of the central section, with a midpoint at the end of 2020" — so we're looking at anytime between October 2020 and March 2021, approximately two years after the planned opening date of December 2018.
The central section refers to stations between Paddington and Abbey Wood, which is expected to run 12 trains per hour during the peak initially.
Following the launch of the central section, services from Reading and Heathrow in the west to Abbey Wood and Shenfield in the east will commence "as soon as possible", although no timeframe has yet been given.
Crossrail says it will "be making every effort to deliver the service as early as possible", but identifies the testing of trains and signalling equipment as the reason for the uncertainty and continued delays.
In a further blow to the troubled project, Bond Street station will not open when the rest of the central section does. This is being attributed to "design and delivery challenges".
Mark Wild, Chief Executive, Crossrail Ltd, said:
I share the frustration of Londoners that the huge benefits of the Elizabeth line are not yet with us. But this plan allows Crossrail Ltd and its contractors to put the project back on track to deliver the Elizabeth line. Crossrail is an immensely complex project and there will be challenges ahead particularly with the testing of the train and signalling systems but the Elizabeth line is going to be incredible for London and really will be worth the wait. This new plan will get us there and allow this fantastic new railway to open around the end of next year.
A more certain launch date will be announced once testing has been completed.