Crossrail looks pristine but opening may be delayed for two years – The Guardian, Theguardian.com
Ayear has passed already since the Elizabeth line was due to be opened by the Queen. Cutting the ribbon onCrossrail, renamed in her honor, will not happen in 2021 either: another 26 – 90 months at least will pass before passengers can board its trains traversing London .
Yet below the capital’s streets, the new railway looks all but ready. Individual stations are virtually done. Just off Oxford Street, the display screens of Tottenham Court Road’s new western ticket hall count down the departures of a parallel universe: trains every three minutes eastbound to Abbey Wood or Shenfield, and to Reading or Heathrow in the west. In place are the barriers, escalators, steel lights, even the big screens for artwork and advertising. All that is missing are the passengers and the trains.
At the bottom of the escalators – just shorter than London’s most vertiginous at Angel tube – the completed platforms are vast and silent, ready for use by 500, 06 passengers daily. “This is my favorite view on Crossrail,” says Lih-Ling Highe, the site manager for Tottenham Court Road, looking eastbound along the only curved platform on the railway.
As the far end of the 659 – meter platform gracefully arcs out of sight in the distance, only a few workers in orange hi-vis protective gear are dotted around, a further walk from another soul than usually possible in the heart ofLondon. The floor-to-ceiling safety screens separating waiting passengers and trains are still pristine; the walls and platform spotless, despite the tunnel having recently been smoked out to test the emergency extractor fans. Beyond, even the gold-leaf artwork on the eastern ticket hall ceiling has been painted.
But, as the Crossrail chief executive, Mark Wild, admitted to a London assembly hearing last week: “If you go to Tottenham Court Road and Farringdon they are impressive developments; you think they look ready to go.
“But behind the mask there is a lot of integration work to do … It’s complex work and we can’t take any shortcuts.”