London’s long-awaited Crossrail project was finally given an official opening date on Wednesday, although commuters will still need to wait for full-line through service.
Transport for London (TfL) said that, subject to final safety approvals, the Elizabeth line would open on 24 May, initially as three separate services.
The central tunnels, which formed the bulk of the Crossrail project, will operate between Paddington and Abbey Wood.
Services west to Reading and Heathrow, and east to Shenfield, will still run from terminating mainline platforms at Paddington and Liverpool Street.
TfL said full services from Reading, Heathrow and Shenfield would finally connect with the central tunnels from the autumn.
“I am delighted that we can now announce a date for the opening of the Elizabeth line in May,” said TfL commissioner Andy Byford.
“We are using these final few weeks to continue to build up reliability on the railway and get the Elizabeth line ready to welcome customers.
“The opening day is set to be a truly historic moment for the capital and the UK, and we look forward to showcasing a simply stunning addition to our network.”
One further delay to a full opening also remained at Bond Street station, which has suffered from a series of construction setbacks.
TfL said Bond Street was making “good progress”, with the station expected to finally open later in the year.
The Crossrail project has been one of the longest-awaited infrastructure projects in the capital, being first proposed by the London County Council in 1943.
After many iterations, it was finally approved in 2008, with work beginning in May 2009.
The opening was scheduled to take place in December 2018, before being pushed back to autumn 2019, then “between October 2020 and March 2021”.
In July 2019, TfL confirmed that the line was further delayed, with the full service then not expected to open until the 2024 financial year.
Services will be operated by the partially state-owned, Hong Kong-traded MTR Corporation, which won the eight-year contract from TfL in May 2015.