Completion of the long-awaited Crossrail project to build a train line from Reading to Brentwood has been delayed by at least nine months to autumn 2019, according to a spokesman.

The project, which will be named the Elizabeth line when it begins operating services, was due to open in December, but Crossrail says it needs more time to complete “final infrastructure and extensive testing” to “ensure a safe and reliable railway for customers from day one of passenger service”.

Construction on the line began in 2009, and as of July Crossrail estimated the work was 93 per cent complete.

According to the Guardian, the central section between Paddington and Abbey Wood has yet to be finished.

Simon Wright, CEO of Crossrail, said: “The Elizabeth line is one of the most complex and challenging infrastructure projects ever undertaken in the UK and is now in its final stages. We have made huge progress with the delivery of this incredible project but we need further time to complete the testing of the new railway. We are working around the clock with our supply chain and Transport for London to complete and commission the Elizabeth line.”

The news comes after rail minister Jo Johnson increased the project’s budget from £14.8 billion to £15.4 billion last month, citing “cost pressures”.

When the line eventually opens, trains will also run to Heathrow and Shenfield.

In March, Transport for London announced the pay-as-you-go fares passengers can expect to pay on the Elizabeth line.

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