The first TfL Rail Class 345 ran under its own power into tunnels beneath London overnight last night (February 25/26).
The electric multiple unit (345021) was driven from Abbey Wood, entering the new tunnels at Plumstead and travelling under the River Thames to Connaught Tunnel before returning to Abbey Wood station. It is the first of hundreds of planned test trips this year.
Transport for London said rigourous testing of the railway and infrastructure will now start ahead of the line’s opening in December.
Andrew Wolstenholme, Chief Executive, Crossrail, said:” The start of infrastructure testing is a major milestone moment. It’s testament to the men and women who have, and continue to, work tirelessly on the project that we are now welcoming the first Elizabeth line train that’s powered by the new overhead lines, into the tunnels.
“The Crossrail programme is now over 90% complete and this heralds the start of our works to bring together the new stations, track, power, signalling and trains ahead of the Elizabeth line opening in December."
Howard Smith, Elizabeth Line Operations Director said: “This is a huge milestone for the project, nine years after construction first began. I’m thrilled to see the first train make its maiden voyage from Abbey Wood through the brand new tunnels.
“Crucial testing is now underway to validate the safety and reliability of the Elizabeth line ahead of the launch. We look forward to welcoming customers onto our new railway this December, when their experience of travelling across London will be transformed for the better.”
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: "This is a hugely exciting moment in the construction of the Elizabeth line. Everyone involved in Europe’s largest infrastructure project has done a wonderful job and it’s thanks to their hard work that we are another key step closer to running our first passenger service. When it opens later this year, the Elizabeth line is going to transform travel across London and the South East, helping to improve the lives of millions of Londoners, stimulating much needed housing development across the capital, and providing a huge boost to our economy.”
Rail Minister Jo Johnson, said: “The maiden journey of a brand new train through the Elizabeth line tunnels is a milestone moment in one of the most ambitious infrastructure projects ever undertaken in the UK.
“This is part of this government’s record spending on upgrading our national rail network and delivers on our commitment to transform journeys across London and the South East, transforming journeys for over 200 million passengers a year, boosting capacity and driving economic growth.”
TfL confirmed on February 26 that the overhead line electrification was energised earlier this month. It said initially one ‘345’ will be used for testing, but more will be more gradually introduced. Full shadow running is expected this summer.
- For much more on this, read RAIL 848, published on March 14, and available digitally from March 10 on Android and iPad.