Complexity and skills shortage still hampering Crossrail

A POSSIBLE opening date for Crossrail under central London could be announced by the end of the month, according to chief executive Mark Wild.

However, he is warning that progress continues to be hampered by several problems, including a shortage of skills among contractors as well as software issues and a safety-critical failure which has caused close-headway tests in the tunnels between Paddington and Liverpool Street to be postponed from 18 March until after Easter.

Mr Wild has been spelling out the causes of the continuing delay in a letter to London Assembly transport committee chair Caroline Pidgeon, but he has not revealed what the safety-critical failure was.

He wrote: ‘We remain committed to being able to provide an opening window – the Earliest Opening Programme – in April.

‘This process is taking longer than I had hoped but we are making progress. We hope to provide more detail to the Assembly, our London stakeholders and beyond, later in April.

‘The completion of installation, including close-out of critical snags and provision of associated information at stations, shafts and portals remains an issue.

‘This reflects a combination of the complexity of interfacing activities required to complete works, as well as constraints in the technical capabilities both within the supply chain and Crossrail.’

The line should have opened in December last year, but services across London are not now expected to be launched until 2020.

Bombardier has built a new fleet of Class 345 Aventra units for the line but on-train systems are still not yet ready, in spite of numerous trials. More than 20 Aventra units have been stabled at Old Oak Common, where they are understood to be awaiting further downloads of software.

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