12:30PM, Friday 15 November 2019
A councillor has responded to Crossrail being dealt another blow after the project was hit by more delays.
Crossrail revealed last Friday that the section of the Elizabeth Line in the centre of the capital will not be completed until the end of 2020.
It says that the central parts of the line – Custom House, Farringdon and Tottenham Court Station – will be opened ‘as soon as practically possible’ in 2021.
The line was initially supposed to be completed in 2018.
Crossrail Ltd chief executive Mark Wild said it needs ‘further time to complete software development for the signalling and train systems and the safety approvals process for the railway’.
The delay will stop Maidenhead commuters using the line to head in to central London until it is opened, but the service’s new trains will be introduced for stopping services between Paddington and Reading from December 15.
These services will be operated as TfL Rail.
Much of the regeneration of Maidenhead has been built around Crossrail’s arrival, with major housing and business projects planned.
Cllr David Coppinger, cabinet member for Maidenhead, said: “I am disappointed but not overly concerned.
“The bulk of the housing is happening in 12 months, so for the vast majority of people who are looking to move, it won’t make too much difference.
“Obviously I am disappointed that it isn’t starting when we all thought, but it will start and will provide the benefits.
“We are going to get a balance of local opportunities, and London opportunities.
“You want something that gets us there safely and this does appear to be around systems, and if it means a delay, so be it.”
He added: “We still have an excellent train service into London.
“You can still get into the centre of London, you can change, it is not stopping people getting to work.”
Transport for London (TfL) also announced there will be an increase in costs of about £400million to £650million.
Secretary of the Marlow-Maidenhead Passengers’ Association Richard Porter said: “I think it’s got to the point where we will believe it when it happens.
“We will be getting TfL Rail trains through to [and] from Reading in December but they will be terminating at Paddington high level.
“Right now passengers are more concerned about how their journeys will work out after December 15, and the fare increases in January.
“Holders of off-peak tickets won’t be able to use most Great Western Railway evening peak services out of Paddington, so will have to use slower TfL Rail services.
“There will be fewer fast trains to London in the morning peak but most will have 12 coaches.”
TfL zones do not apply to stations beyond West Drayton, but customers will be able to use contactless from Paddington mainline to Reading.
Contactless ticketing will come into effect in line with the annual fares revision on January 2, 2020.
Between December 15 and January 2, 2020, TfL fares will remain at the same price as the current GWR fares.
Pay-as-you-go with Oyster will not be extended to services beyond West Drayton.
Mark Wild, Crossrail Ltd chief executive, said: “We are doing everything we can to complete the Elizabeth Line as quickly as we can but there are no short cuts to delivering this hugely complex railway. The Elizabeth Line must be completed to the highest safety and quality standards.”
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