It is a source of great frustration to many people living in Brentwood and Shenfield that the much vaunted Crossrail, or the Elizabeth Line as it is now known, is still not in full operation.
Crossrail is a wholly owned subsidiary of TfL, under the leadership of the Mayor of London, who is responsible for the delivery of the project. We were originally expecting the Shenfield to Reading service to be up and running by December 2019 – it is now expected by early 2022. However, I am pleased that delivery of the service is now in its final stages, particularly given the challenging and uncertain circumstances created by the coronavirus pandemic
I keep in touch with the project through the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Crossrail, not least to continue banging the drum for better disabled access at both Shenfield and Brentwood stations. The Crossrail APPG members are fully aware of my concern that additional funding for these works is yet to be found. I have been assured that Transport for London recognise that the provision of a lift to Platform 4 would further improve accessibility at Brentwood Station and have committed to continue to work with Network Rail, the DfT, Essex County Council and other stakeholders to find a suitable solution at the station.
Work is also ongoing to devise a solution for disabled access at Shenfield. In the APPG's next meeting, which should be held in October, I hope to meet with the director who has overall responsibility for surface station upgrades to ensure the accessibility alterations are completed.
More positively, the Crossrail project recently passed a significant milestone: trial testing (i.e. ensuring the systems are safe for train testing) has commenced, which moves the project closer to its operational phase. On the completion of trial testing, the project will begin testing the trains and signalling before moving on to trial operations.
These trial operations will need volunteers to act as passengers, so if you are a train enthusiast keep an eye on Crossrail's website and you may have the chance to take part in a small piece of British railway history.