London: London´s much-delayed east-west Crossrail route, to be known as the Elizabeth line, will partially open on May 24, Transport for London (TfL) said on Wednesday.
The line will initially only operate Monday to Saturday, TfL said, with testing and software updates to be carried out on Sundays.
“More intensive services” will be launched later this year, it said.
The line had been due to be completed in December 2018, with a budget of £14.8 billion, which has now risen to an estimated £18.9 billion, including £5.1 billion from the government.
The project has been hit by problems including with construction and difficulties installing complex signalling systems.
Once completed, the line will run from Reading, around 35 miles (55 kilometres) to the west of London, to Shenfield, around 21 miles to the east, with the option of stopping at Heathrow airport.
However, the line “will initially operate as three separate railways, with services from Reading, Heathrow and Shenfield connecting with the central tunnels from autumn this year,” TfL said.
The new line will for instance reduce the journey time from Paddington in central London to Canary Wharf in the east from 30 minutes to 17 minutes, “transforming how Londoners and visitors navigate the capital”, TfL said.
“The opening day is set to be a truly historic moment for the capital and the UK, and we look forward to showcasing a simply stunning addition to our network,” said Andy Byford, the Transport for London commissioner.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan welcomed “the most significant addition to our transport network in decades, (which) will revolutionise travel across the capital and the south east”.
“Green public transport is the future and the opening of the Elizabeth line is a landmark moment for our capital and our whole country, particularly in this special Platinum Jubilee year” of Queen Elizabeth II´s reign, he said. (AFP)