London's Crossrail delayed to summer 2021, Heathrow link to 2022

FILE PHOTO: Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron (C) and London Mayor Boris Johnson (2nd R) visit a Crossrail construction site beneath Tottenham Court Road in central London January 16, 2014. Crossrail, the largest infrastructure project in Europe which will provide a new link across London, has reached the half-way stage, the company behind it said at a high-profile event attended by Britain's Prime Minister Cameron. REUTERS/Ben Stansall/pool

LONDON (Reuters) - London’s delayed multi billion-pound Crossrail train line will open its central section in summer 2021, the British capital’s transport operator said on Friday, slightly ahead of recent forecasts.

Transport for London (TfL) said Crossrail Limited, the company responsible for the project which is over-budget and three years behind schedule, expects the Elizabeth line between Paddington and Abbey Wood to open in Summer 2021.

The line running from Reading to the west of London, on to Heathrow Airport and central London will open in mid-2022.

The $23 billion Crossrail project was originally due to be opened by Queen Elizabeth in December 2018 but has been repeatedly delayed by problems with safety testing and signalling systems.

Rebranded as the Elizabeth Line in 2016, Crossrail is expected to carry about 200 million passengers a year and alleviate pressure on London’s 19th century underground network, known as the Tube.

“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,” Crossrail Chief Executive Mark Wild said.

Reporting by Elizabeth Howcroft; editing by Kate Holton