Crossrail Archives

UPDATED: 2nd June 2020: Crossrail trains cleared to use Heathrow tunnel

The following from Ian Visits website (www.ianvisits.co.uk) Follow the Article Categories link to "Transport News" and "Croosrail trains cleared to use Heathrow tunnel" June 2nd for full item

Last month, a significant achievement took place on the Crossrail project, which is far more important than the headlines make it seem to be.

At a basic level, the Office of Rail Regulation approved the use of the new Class 345 trains that will be used on the Elizabeth line to carry passengers into the Heathrow tunnels.

The practical implication being that TfL Rail will in the next few weeks be able to run from Paddington to Heathrow direct, as they were supposed to start doing back in May 2018.

The delay has been caused by the bane and saviour of modern railways, the signalling system.

As it happened, that milestone was just about to be achieved as the lockdown took place, but being software, a remote upgrade was possible, and that was the final stage needed to get the regulator’s approval.

When the line is fully operational, a total of six Elizabeth Line trains per hour will serve Heathrow Airport. Four will go to Terminals 2, 3 and 4 and two will go to Terminals 2, 3 and 5. This will also increase services to Ealing Broadway, Southall and Hayes & Harlington.

THERE IS ALSO AN UPDATE ABOUT EALING BROADWAY STATION for June now work has started again. Details available on the Crossrail site at  https://www.crossrail.co.uk/route/western-section/ealing-broadway-station

AND ALSO DETAILS of possible new trains starting this month at https://www.crossrail.co.uk/news/articles/crossrail-project-update

UPDATED: 17th January 2020: Crossrail and Ealing Broadway Station - latest information

The Crossrail work at Ealing Broadway Station is now progressing well according to the designs approved in Schedule 7 planning applications, the most recent one of which was in 2017. The steelwork for some of the lift shafts and walkways has now been installed, plus preparatory work done for the remaining lift shaft. Some other steelwork on the platforms has been installed, plus some work has been done on the new street level ticket hall. Monthly updates about the work are now provided on the Crossrail website http://www.crossrail.co.uk/route/western-section/ealing-broadway-station

The only part of the original design that is being reviewed is the design of the canopies on the platforms. There has been some concern that they wouldn’t provide adequate protection from the rain. New designs for canopies and shelters are being investigated and these are being subjected to passenger flow modelling. Any change to the approved design would require either a new Schedule 7 application or an amendment to the existing one.

The current expectation is that the right hand (southern) side of the new ticket hall will be opened in summer 2020, with the left hand (northern) side following by December 2020. The new lifts will open once they are ready for service and at least by December 2020. The forecourt canopy (to the original design) will be constructed in 2 stages in conjunction the with station building work. The left hand (northern) part of it will go across the frontage of Villers House. Any work on the frontage of Villiers House itself and the estate agent below would be the responsibility of Ealing Ltd. This would require a new planning application and is likely to be done to a different timescale.

The new Crossrail trains are now running from Paddington (via Ealing Broadway) out to Reading. They are currently 7 carriages long and will increase to 9 carriages when the necessary software upgrades have been completed. At some stage, the old Heathrow Connect trains out to Heathrow will be replaced by the new Crossrail ones. This won’t now be until spring 2020 at the earliest. The signalling isn’t yet reliable enough on the new trains.

Ealing Council consulted on “public realm” changes outside Ealing Broadway Station in 2019. They got some negative feedback and are now re-thinking the designs, including the location of one bus stop and the lack of drop off/ pick up points. The current expectation is that they will initially have a workshop to discuss ideas. This would be along the lines of the Liveable Neighbourhoods workshops.

UPDATED: 27th July 2019: Crossrail and Ealing Broadway Station - Ealing Council consultation on redesign of the roadspace outside the station.

The council is at long last consulting on plans to redesign the road space outside Ealing Broadway Station ahead of Crossrail. You can see their proposals at  https://www.ealing.gov.uk/ebstation  You should read the consultation  "DRAFT" paper first and there is also a flyer available with an artists impression of what the site could look like with the new minimalist canopy.   Exactly what is proposed is not very clear but the key features include:-

- Narrowing the carriageway outside the station to a single lane.
- Installation of new cycle racks on both sides of the road
- Relocating Bus stop F (E2, E7 and E8) to outside the Metrobank
- No vehicle drop off provision even for disabled passengers 
- 6 trees in planters.

The Council consultation is open until 13th August.

Those who use the station will know too well how unpleasant and overcrowded it is. Over the past 10 years, SEC has pressed hard to use the opportunities of Crossrail to get something worthwhile and we are profoundly underwhelmed with what is now proposed. We have asked the Council at least to justify what they want to do but they have declined to do so. So please take a look at the plans for yourself and register your views on them. You can do this through their online survey, but if you have more to say than the survey allows, you can email johnsonl@ealing.gov.uk.

SEC encourages you to make your own mind up about the plans, but some areas that concern us are listed HERE

UPDATED: 18th March 2019: Crossrail and Ealing Broadway Station - latest information

The Crossrail delays continue. Crossrail Ltd. still aren’t able to predict a new planned opening date for the central London section of the service but have confirmed that it won't now open in 2019. The situation in Ealing is even worse as they haven’t yet let a contract to start the station building work. Previous dates of 19th December and 14th February have been and gone and all they can say now is “early April”.

The design for the canopy outside Ealing Broadway Station will be different from that shown on their hoardings. The revised design will be simpler and deals with a number of issues with the old one. The illustrations we have seen look broadly acceptable - see HERE . There will have to be a new “Schedule 7” planning submission to cover this change.

Ealing Council have radically changed their previous ideas for the “public realm” outside the station. We have fed back significant concerns with the new proposed design and will see what changes have been made when it shortly comes out for public consultation.

Crossrail were to have introduced a 4 trains per hour stopping service to Heathrow in May 2018. They still don’t have confidence that they can run a reliable service with their new trains and signalling. This new service will now have to wait until December 2019 at the earliest.

UPDATED: 4th February 2019: Crossrail and Ealing Broadway Station - latest information

Crossrail delays at Ealing Broadway station continue. Crossrail now doubt that the bridge can carry the supports for the original canopy design, while complications have emerged with the area outside Villiers House which is not in public ownership. This has required a major re-design to the canopy over the front entrance which will have to go back through Ealing Planning – see HERE  for their latest ideas.

We are promised a consultation on these plans together with Ealing’s latest thinking on the public realm in front of the station in the coming weeks. A key question will be disabled car passengers set-down provision.

Ealing today has a very full roundup of latest events HERE published on 24th January.

Back in November last year, Crossrail also sent a letter to some local residents explaining what is happening at Ealing Broadway Station and what is due to take place in late December/early January when there are road closures and hence bus diversions whilst they install some heavy machinery.
You can  see the text of their letter HERE

 SEC  notes generally that as spring 2018 turned into summer, then summer into autumn and with winter now here, the long promised improvements to Ealing Broadway station forecourt seem as distant as ever. Crossrail has been in the headlines recently for its cost overruns and other delays but they continue to hold out the prospect that the new Elizabeth Line service will be operational by the end of next year. They admit however, the other improvements at Ealing Broadway Station will be far from complete and their occupation of Haven Green will drag on deep into 2020.  

 Crossrail say that the station is ‘under technical review by Network Rail as part of the contract letting’ (whatever that means). With this in mind we look forward to confirmation that it will be built according to the 2014 approved designs. The forecourt and the space around it are LBE’s responsibility and they promise that once the station itself is agreed they will consult further on these public realm details, probably in the New Year.

 Since it got its green light back in 2008, Crossrail’s works across the Borough as a whole have been quite a shambles. Unlike in the central and eastern sections nobody has taken the lead in planning how it would be implemented and how it can best fit into the existing environment. Promises and deadlines have been broken repeatedly with the buck passing back and forth between TFL, Crossrail and Network Rail, while LBE spectating from the side-lines like the rest of us. When the Elizabeth Line finally opens expect that 4 out of 5 Ealing stations (the exception is Hanwell) will prove poorly designed and interface badly with the neighbourhoods they serve.

 SEC has written to the National Audit Office to suggest that they examine the implementation of Crossrail in Ealing in its recently announced investigation of the overall Crossrail Project 

You can see the full text of this letter  HERE

UPDATED: 10th November 2018: Crossrail and Ealing Broadway Station - yet more ongoing delays

Endless Delays. Crossrail eventually admitted at the end of August that the new Elizabeth Line service through central London wouldn’t be able to start until Autumn 2019. However, these delays are nothing compared to what we have experienced on the western surface section of the route, where the scale of the work is much smaller.

The planned design for Ealing Broadway Station was approved in summer 2014. Work near us eventually started in late summer 2015 and the eastern “emergency escape” footbridge was put up a few months later. Work on the platform extensions then continued slowly, but everything else seemed to slow down to a snail’s pace. The same was true for the other west London stations on the Crossrail route. We got the tale from Crossrail Ltd. that this was due to the difficulties of working around an operational railway. However, work well away from the tracks didn’t seem to be going on either.

Some concerned residents in West Ealing prompted BBC London to run an article about the delays in July 2017. This got Crossrail to admit that the contract for work on the station buildings had been canceled because of increasing costs related to extra design work. There was no explanation of why a construction contract had been let before design work had been completed. We were told that a new (cheaper) contract would be in place in December 2017, with the work to start shortly afterwards. This whole process then suffered slippage after slippage. The invitations to tender only went out in October 2017 and to date no new contract appears to be have signed, although there are signs that a contractor may have been chosen.

We were told in late 2017 that temporary contracts would be used to advance some of the work that could only be done during “possessions" of the railway, when no trains would be running. There were plans to replace the staircase to platforms 2 and 3 at Ealing Broadway Station using such temporary contracts at Christmas 2017 and at the early May bank holiday 2018. Both these plans were called off at the last moment when they realised they may not work. Attempt no. 3 at replacing the staircase (using contractor no. 3) is now underway. Passengers now have walk all the way down the platforms and cross over the “emergency escape” footbridge to get at these platforms. It is thought that a new staircase will be installed over the Christmas break.

The introduction of new services hasn’t fared much better on our section of the route. Crossrail were to introduce a 4 trains per hour service to Heathrow Terminal 4 in May 2018 using their new Elizabeth Line trains. They then found that they couldn’t get the signalling to work with them in the tunnels to Heathrow. Two of their new trains per hour now just run to Hayes & Harlington, with 2 of the old (rebadged) Heathrow Connect trains every hour running all the way to Heathrow. It is not clear when the 4 trains per hour service will start, but it won’t be before May 2019 and perhaps not until December 2019.

We await Crossrail’s next failure to deliver on time and on budget.

Ealing Today also have an item from August 2018 suggesting that the opening of the Western Section of Crossrail will be delayed. You can read the item HERE
They also have an item from September 2018 reporting that passengers may be "At risk" from the continuing delays at Ealing Broadway Station and calling for action. That item is also available HERE

UPDATED: 4th and 8th February 2018: Crossrail and Ealing Broadway Station - ongoing delays

Endless Delays. Crossrail announced last July it had terminated Vinci Ltd’s 2013 contract to upgrade West London’s stations and was re-tendering the work. We were assured that with new contracts would be in place by December 2017 and the upgraded stations could still be ready in time for Crossrail’s 2019 full opening as the Elizabeth Line. We now learn the re-tendering exercise was delayed and with new contracts unlikely before late spring, work won’t start till summer at the earliest. Whether it can end by Crossrail’s December 2019 deadline looks increasingly doubtful.

Still too many steps. Unperturbed, TfL published a series of maps in January of the different stages the Elizabeth Line would open. These showed that by the time Crossrail’s Heathrow service began in May 2018 all West London’s stations would have step free access from street to platform. The announcement triggered a wave of complaints to TfL. No West London station is step free, and the delays mean none will be soon. At the last count, you had to negotiate up to 48 steps to get from the street to the platform at Ealing Broadway. TfL has since quietly amended its maps.

Carillion steps in and then out.  With concern growing about its lack of progress, Crossrail tried a new way to get things at Ealing Broadway moving. It rushed through some temporary contracts for work over Christmas 2017 on the stairs and the lift foundations. Unfortunately, the contract went to Carillion who, even before they went bust, found they couldn’t do the job. Crossrail say they have an arrangement with Carillion’s staff and/or administrators to persevere with this project.

Undersized Lifts. Last autumn, Crossrail submitted to LBE a revised “Schedule 7” planning application, little different to the one 3 years earlier. There were a few welcome changes but no increase in the much criticised undersized lifts. Crossrail claimed the platform 2&3 lift was bigger to handle the expected passengers, but the drawings show it’s the same size as previously. What is new is the lift entry/exit arrangement. This had been a “straight through” design with passengers exiting at the end opposite the entrance. This separate exit has unaccountably disappeared. The effective capacity of the lift has been reduced and those with wheelchairs, buggies and bikes will have either to back in or back out. The plans have been passed.

Heathrow Hassles. Crossrail plans to replace the twice hourly Heathrow Connect service this May with new trains running every 15 minutes. Here too it has snags. Too few new trains have been built yet those they have still lack the software for Heathrow’s signalling system and can only get to Hayes and Harlington. With insufficient existing Heathrow Connect trains for a 4 per hour service, the present 2 trains per hour Heathrow Connect service is likely to run a while longer. Perhaps Crossrail will resort to a paint job on the existing trains to hide its embarrassment? 

At least the job pays well.  But never mind the naysayers and other odd cracks now starting to show eg in  The Evening Standard. Things remain upbeat in Crossrail’s corporate world. The PR department runs at full swing, pushing out positive messages whenever they can. Staff are also doing quite nicely with their pay at the top end of the scale for public bodies. Just look at pages 92 and 93 of the TfL annual report and statement of accounts 2016-2017. Nice work if you can get it.