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London’s Elizabeth line has received its final authorisations of its trains, stations, and infrastructure from the rail regulator ahead of its opening on Tuesday 24 May.
The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has issued approvals for all the Elizabeth line stations – with the exception of Bond Street – confirming the stations and infrastructure meet the requirements for passenger use.
Abbey Wood, Canary Wharf, Custom House, Farringdon, Liverpool Street, Paddington, Tottenham Court Road, Whitechapel and Woolwich stations have all been given the green light and issued with authorisations.
Bond Street has been given the go-ahead only for safe evacuation procedures, as it will open for passengers later than the rest of the line.
ORR has also authorised the overall routeway for the Elizabeth line’s track and tunnel infrastructure, to allow trains to run through the central section.
The new railway will transform how Londoners and visitors cross the capital with Paddington to Canary Wharf, for example, taking just 18 minutes.
The opening comes just a week after this year’s Safety & Health Expo, which took place at London’s ExCeL from 17-19 May 2022, but the new line will transform how visitors will be able to attend the event in future years. ExCeL’s new dedicated Elizabeth line Station will be just 10 minutes from Liverpool Street, 20 minutes from Paddington and 43 minutes from Heathrow. Safety & Health Expo takes place from 16-18 May, in 2023.
Regulations set out that no new or upgraded infrastructure or rolling stock can be put into use on or as part of Britain’s rail system unless ORR has provided an ‘interoperability authorisation for the placing in service’ to ensure it meets appropriate requirements.
ORR has been working closely with, and assessing several aspects of, the Crossrail project over the last two years to ensure it meets the necessary technical, safety and accessibility requirements before it can open to passengers.
The project, which was due to be completed in December 2018, has been hit with many delays. In August 2018, SHP reported that more time needed to ensure ‘safe and reliable railway’ and that mechanical, electrical and communications systems were causing delays.
ORR approved the Elizabeth line Class 345 fleet in 2020 and recently authorised use of the Global System for Mobile Communications-Railway (GSM-R). This delivers digital, secure and dependable communications between drivers and signallers, helping increase safety, reduce delays and improve performance and providing a better experience for passengers.
The regulator also approved the track access contract between Rail for London (Infrastructure) Ltd, the infrastructure manager for the Crossrail Central Operating Section, and MTR Corporation (Crossrail) Ltd, the Elizabeth line operator.
This means that if in the future a train operator wants to access the Elizabeth line network, it needs a track access contract that has been reviewed and approved by ORR.
Steve Fletcher, Deputy Director of Engineering and Asset Management at the Office of Rail and Road, said: “Delivery of the Elizabeth line is in its very final complex stages, but we’ve been working closely with the Crossrail project and Transport for London for some time to ensure smooth progress of authorisations.
“This co-operation means we’ve been able to provide these approvals in a timely manner and ensure this state-of-the-art railway can enter into service safely and reliably for passengers, and meet the schedule opening date of 24 May.”
Howard Smith, Elizabeth line Director, said: “With final preparations underway ahead of opening the Elizabeth line on Tuesday 24 May, we have been working closely with ORR on getting the final authorisations for our stations, trains and other infrastructure that will mean we can operate the new railway safely and reliably for all our future customers.”