The company behind the Crossrail project has issued an update to say the Elizabeth line will not be fully operational until 2022 – nearly four years after it was originally due to open.

Crossrail Ltd said the central section between Paddington and Abbey Wood will open in summer 2021, with full services between Reading and Heathrow in the west to Abbey Wood and Shenfield in the east starting in mid-2022. The estimate takes into account “a period of time” required to carry out “intensive operational testing”.

The Elizabeth line was originally scheduled to open in December 2018, but the project has faced a number of setbacks along the way, with construction still ongoing at Bond Street station – a key stop along the route – to accommodate the new services.

Crossrail chief executive Mark Wild said the company is “increasingly confident that Bond Street station will be ready to open with the rest of the railway”.

Transport for London (TfL) began running stopping services between the Paddington mainline and Reading on 15 December 2019 ahead of them becoming part of the Elizabeth line, according to Crossrail.

Wild said: “I know that Londoners are deeply frustrated by the delays to the Elizabeth line and we are doing everything we can to get this railway finished and open… We have a comprehensive plan to complete the Elizabeth line and the milestones we must hit during 2020, including the testing of the signalling and train systems and safety assurance, but there are no shortcuts to delivery of this hugely complex railway.”

The company also said its estimates show the project can be delivered within the additional funding range of between £400 million to £650 million more than the revised amount agreed by the mayor of London, the government and TfL in December 2018.

Commenting on the news, Navin Shah, chair of the London Assembly Transport Committee, said: “We welcome a concrete start date for Crossrail. Of course, we will still have questions over the time-frame as we want to be sure it is realistic and that it won’t slip again. We also want assurance that there will be no further increase in the final cost.

“Crossrail will be a huge benefit to Londoners when it finally opens in 2021. The Transport Committee will continue to watch developments closely and will be asking tough questions of the mayor, TfL and Crossrail Ltd to ensure Londoners get the answers they need and are not left disappointed again.”

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