The media has been very excitable this week at the announcement by TfL that Crossrail will not be ready for its December opening date, and will instead be opening 9 months later in August 2019. While this is quite annoying for many people who's commute won't be “transformed” (being wedged up the same person's armpit, but on a different train) and slightly embarrassing for TfL, it is actually a good thing overall.
The last time the media got so worked up about something in the railways (save for the private v public ownership debate which continues to rage on every couple of months) was the May timetable change meltdown. I discussed in a previous article (read it here: https://felixunstructured.weebly.com/the-opinions-section/the-new-timetables-show-that-our-fragmented-privatisation-has-failed ) The biggest problem here was the nobody said “hang on, we're not ready. We need to postpone this.” Instead, they ploughed on, knowing that the amount of work required to get everything ready was at best unlikely and, at worst impossible. It turned out to be impossible and residents across the country experienced railway hell, and continue to do so. TfL and Crossrail appear to have learnt from this. Instead of blindly ploughing on with their heads in the excavated tunnel mud shouting “this is all fine”, they have decided that, realistically, it simply won't be ready on time. And this is the sensible way to run things. It would be even worse than the Thameslink and Northern timetable failure, because instead of the “sorry, this train doesn't exist, you'll have to wait for another hour”, the Crossrail version would be “sorry, this station doesn't exist, you'll have to walk down the track to the nearest emergency tunnel shaft”. Commuters wading through half-solidified concrete whilst massive beams of steel are waved around their heads is not a good mixture. I often travel through Whitechapel station, and the look of that place hasn't changed for at least a year. I'm sure that there is a lot of work going on behind the wooden hoardings, but there is no way that the whole thing will be ready by December. Especially as Network Rail have not yet managed to clear the new Crossrail trains to run in the Heathrow tunnels yet because they have a different signalling system which has yet to be fully installed and tested on the new Crossrail stock.
So, good. Common sense has prevailed in the announcement that Crossrail will be delayed. Stop getting so worked up about it. In fact, it shouldn't even be slightly embarrassing for TfL.
Although, whilst I'm on the subject of Crossrail, TfL have made one fatal flaw with it: calling it the Elizabeth Line. No. It is not a tube line, it is a suburban heavy rail network that crosses London, similar to the London Overground or Thameslink. It is a perfect example of supreme royal bum-kissing on the part of TfL's managers. Stop it. Crossrail is a good name, Crossrail is the name that has been used since it was first thought of some 30-40 years ago, and Crossrail it should stay.