The opening of the Crossrail project in London has been delayed again, with a new date for completion set for 2021.

The Elizabeth line was originally due to open in December 2018, but the project has faced substantial delays to the completion of infrastructure.

Crossrail CEO Mark Wild said more time is needed to complete software development for the signalling and train systems, as well as safety tests. “The Trial Running phase will begin at the earliest opportunity in 2020; this will be followed by testing of the operational railway to ensure it is safe and reliable,” he added.

Wild said tunnels for the line are “on track” to be completed in January, with station updates at Custom House, Farringdon and Tottenham Court Road to be finished by the end of 2019. Work on Bond Street and Whitechapel station is still ongoing.

An update in April pinpointed the line would open somewhere between October 2020 and March 2021, but the latest announcement reveals operations will begin “as soon as practically possible in 2021”.

In addition, Wild revealed the project’s budget has increased again.

“Our detailed cost forecasts continue to show that the project’s costs will increase due to programme risks and uncertainties. The latest projections indicate a range of between £400 million to £650 million more than the revised funding agreed by the Mayor, Government and Transport for London in December 2018.

“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.”

The London Assembly Transport Committee released a report in April criticising the project for being over budget and behind schedule, saying Transport for London (TfL) commissioner Mike Brown should “reflect on whether he is fit to continue to fulfil his role”.

When it opens, the Elizabeth line will run services from Reading and Heathrow in the west to Abbey Wood and Shenfield in the east.

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