The concept of large-diameter tunnels crossing central London to connect Paddington in the west and Liverpool Street in the east was first proposed by railwayman George Dow in The Star newspaper in June 1941. The project that became Crossrail has origins in the 1943 County of London Plan and 1944 Greater London Plan by Patrick Abercrombie. These led to a specialist investigation by the Railway (London Plan) Committee, appointed in 1944 and reporting in 1946 and 1948.
The term '"Crossrail" emerged in the 1974 London Rail Study Report. Although the idea was seen as imaginative, only a brief estimate of cost was given: £300 million. A feasibility study was recommended as a high priority so that the practicability and costs of the scheme could be determined. It was also suggested that the alignment of the tunnels should be safeguarded while a final decision was taken.
The Central London Rail Study of 1989 proposed tunnels linking the existing rail network as the "East–West Crossrail", "City Crossrail", and "North–South Crossrail" schemes. The east–west scheme was for a line from Liverpool Street to Paddington/Marylebone with two connections at its western end linking the tunnel to the Great Western Main Line and the Metropolitan line on the Underground. The City route was shown as a new connection across the City of London linking the Great Northern Route with London Bridge. The north–south line proposed routing West Coast Main Line, Thameslink, and Great Northern trains through Euston and King's Cross/St Pancras, then under the West End via Tottenham Court Road, Piccadilly Circus and Victoria towards Crystal Palace and Hounslow. The report also recommended a number of other schemes including a "Thameslink Metro" route enhancement, and the Chelsea–Hackney line. The cost of the east–west scheme including rolling stock was estimated at £885 million.
In 1991 a private bill was submitted to Parliament for a scheme including a new underground line from Paddington to Liverpool Street. The bill was promoted by London Underground and British Rail, and supported by the government; it was rejected by the Private Bill Committee in 1994 on the grounds that a case had not been made, though the government issued "Safeguarding Directions", protecting the route from any development that would jeopardise future schemes.
In 2001 Cross London Rail Links (CLRL), a joint-venture between TfL and the DfT, was formed to develop and promote the Crossrail scheme, and also a Wimbledon–Hackney scheme.
A more ambitious proposal named "Superlink" was proposed in 2004, at an estimated cost of £13 billion, including additional infrastructure work outside London: in addition to Crossrail's east– west tunnel, lines would connect towns including Cambridge, Ipswich, Southend-on-Sea, Pitsea, Reading, Basingstoke and Northampton. The proposal was rejected by Crossrail, and failed to receive the backing of the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, or the DfT.
The Crossrail Bill 2005, a hybrid bill, went through Parliament and while the Bill was still in discussion, Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly issued safeguarding directions in force from January 2008, which protect the path of the proposal and certain extensions beyond it from development which might prevent the Crossrail proposal or possible future extensions.
In February 2008 the Bill moved to the House of Lords and received royal assent on 22 July 2008 as the Crossrail Act 2008. The Act gave CLRL the powers necessary to build the line. Construction began on 15 May 2009 when construction started. In September 2009 the project received £1 billion in funding. The money was lent to TfL by the European Investment Bank.
In the lead-up to the 2010 general election, both the Labour and Conservative parties made manifesto commitments to deliver the railway and coalition government formed after the elction also committed to the project. The original planned schedule was that the first trains would run in 2017, but in 2010 the government delayed this to 2018 in order to save £1 billion.
Crossrail's central core section will utilise new east–west twin tunnels under central London, splitting into two branches at either end. The tunnelled sections will be approximately 22 kilometres (14 mi) in length.
In the east, the line splits at Whitechapel, with one branch running over the existing Great Eastern Main Line via Stratford to Shenfield, and the other branch running through Canary Wharf and emerging from the tunnel at Custom House on a disused part of the North London Line, continuing under the River Thames to Abbey Wood.
In the west, the route connects with the Great Western Main Line at Paddington and runs to Hayes and Harlington, where it splits. One branch runs to Heathrow Central (for Terminals 2 and 3) and Heathrow Terminal 4 only, while the other runs over the existing main line to Reading.
The main western section runs on the surface from Reading to Acton Main Line. Upgrades are being made to stations at Maidenhead, Taplow, Burnham, Slough, Langley, Iver, West Drayton, Hayes and Harlington, Southall, Hanwell, West Ealing, Ealing Broadway and Acton Main Line.
A "dive-under" was constructed at Acton to allow passenger trains to pass slower freight trains leaving and entering a goods yard. It was completed in July 2016 and was brought into use in 2017.
The Heathrow spur has two stations, at Heathrow Central (for Terminals 2 and 3) and Terminal 4, and joins the main route at Airport Junction, between West Drayton and Hayes and Harlington.
Crossrail had been planned to terminate at Maidenhead, with an extension to Reading safeguarded. On 27 March 2014, however, it was announced that the line would indeed extend to Reading.
The central tunnels run from a portal just west of Paddington to Whitechapel, with further tunnelling to Stratford and to Canary Wharf.
There will be new stations at Paddington, Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road, Farringdon, Liverpool Street and Whitechapel, with interchanges with the London Underground and other National Rail services. Due to the size and positioning of the new platforms, Farringdon station will also be connected to Barbican station, and Liverpool Street to Moorgate station.
One of the two eastern sections runs underground from Whitechapel to Stratford, then on the surface on the existing main line. The service will replace the "Shenfield metro", with key stops at Ilford, Romford (for interchange with London Overground services to Upminster), Gidea Park (where some peak train will start or terminate), and Shenfield.
Maryland, which is a short distance along from Stratford, was not included in the Crossrail plans until August 2006, when selective door opening was agreed so that the station would be accessible.
The other eastern branch runs underground from Whitechapel to Canary Wharf and Abbey Wood. It takes over the Custom House to Woolwich via Connaught tunnel stretch of the former North London Line built by the Eastern Counties and Thames Junction Railway, and connects it with the North Kent Line via a tunnel under the Thames at North Woolwich. It will include a station box at Woolwich, however, efforts to connect Crossrail with London City Airport were not fruitful.
Restoration of the Connaught tunnel by filling with concrete foam and reboring, as originally intended, was deemed too great a risk to the structural integrity of the tunnel, and so the docks above were drained to give access to the tunnel roof in order to enlarge its profile. This work took place during 2013.
Crossrail will be named the Elizabeth line after Queen Elizabeth II from its opening in central London in December 2018. The Elizabeth line will use a version of the Transport for London roundel, coloured purple with a blue bar and the Elizabeth line name in TfL's New Johnston font.
There are five tunnelled sections, each with an internal diameter of 6.2 m (20 ft 4 in) (compared with 3.81 m (12 ft 6 in) for the deep-level Victoria line), totalling 21 km (13 mi) in length: a 6.4 km (4.0 mi) tunnel from Royal Oak to Farringdon; an 8.3 km (5.2 mi) tunnel from Limmo Peninsula in Canning Town to Farringdon; a 2.7 km (1.7 mi) tunnel from Pudding Mill Lane near Stratford to Stepney Green; a 2.6 km (1.6 mi) tunnel from Plumstead to North Woolwich (Thames tunnel section); and a 0.9 km (0.6 mi) tunnel from Limmo Peninsula to the Victoria Dock portal which re-uses the Pudding Mill Lane to Stepney tunnelling machines.
Each section consists of two tunnels excavated at the same time, with two tunnel boring machines (TBMs) per section. The tunnel linings are constructed from concrete sections, some of which are produced in Chatham Dockyard then transported by barge to the Limmo Peninsula. Tunnelling is expected to progress at around 100 m (330 ft) per week. The main tunnelling contracts are valued at around £1.5 billion. The wide diameter tunnels allow for new Class 345 rolling stock, which is larger than the traditional deep-level tube trains. The tunnels allow for the emergency evacuation of passengers through the side-doors rather than along the length of the train. When bicycles are allowed to be carried it is regarded as essential to allow evacuation to the sides of the train.
As well as 10 brand new stations, Crossrail requires significant work on existing station infrastructure. Although initially the trains will be 200 metres (660 feet) long, platforms at the new stations in the central core are being built to enable 240-metre-long trains in case of possible future extensions. At existing stations, platforms are being lengthened accordingly.
In the eastern section, Maryland and Manor Park will not have platform extensions, so trains will use selective door opening instead. At Maryland this is because of the prohibitive cost of extensions and the poor business case, and at Manor Park it is due to the presence of a freight loop that would otherwise be cut off.
A mock-up of the new stations was built in Bedfordshire to ensure that the architectural integrity would last for a century. It was planned to bring at least one mock-up to London for the public to view the design and give feedback before final construction commenced.
Of the 40 stations, 32 will have step-free access to both platforms; train doors will be level with the platforms at central stations and at Heathrow. The stations will be fully equipped with CCTV and, due to the length of the platforms, train indicators will be above the platform-edge doors in central stations.
Crossrail has registered the designation "Class 345" for its new trains. The requirement is for 65 trains, each 200 metres (660 feet) long and carrying up to 1,500 passengers. The trains will be accessible, including dedicated areas for wheelchairs, with audio and visual announcements, CCTV and speaker-phones connected to the driver in case of emergency. Crossrail has stated that the new trains will be based on existing designs to minimise costs associated with development.
They are intended to run at up to 140 km/h (90 mph) on certain parts of the route.The government's rolling stock plan in 2008 expected that the trains for Crossrail would be similar to the new rolling stock procured for the Thameslink Programme and would displace Class 315 and Class 360/2 electric trains and Class 165 diesel trains for use elsewhere on the national network.
In March 2011 Crossrail announced that five bidders had been shortlisted for the contract to build the Class 345 and its associated depot. One of the bidders, Alstom, withdrew from the process in July 2011. In February 2012 Crossrail issued an invitation to negotiate to CAF, Siemens, Hitachi and Bombardier, with tenders expected to be submitted by mid-2012.
Siemens will provide signalling and control systems.
In February 2014 Transport for London and the Department for Transport announced that the contract to build and maintain the new rolling stock had been awarded to Bombardier. The contract covers the supply, delivery and maintenance of 65 new trains and a depot at Old Oak Common. The trains are being built at Bombardier's Litchurch Lane manufacturing facility in Derby. This contract will support around 760 UK manufacturing jobs plus 80 apprenticeships. An estimated 74 per cent of contract spend is expected to remain in the UK economy. The design will be based on Bombardier's Aventra design.
Crossrail will use 25 kV, 50 Hz AC overhead lines, as on the Great Eastern Main Line and the Great Western Main Line as far as Airport Junction. Overhead electrification will be installed between Airport Junction and Reading as part of the Crossrail project and the GWML upgrade.
The signalling will be a mixture of ETCS 2 on the western branches from 2019, communication-based train control with automatic train operation on the core and Abbey Wood branch (with a possible later upgrade to ETCS), and Automatic Warning System with Train Protection & Warning System on the Great Eastern Main Line.
Crossrail will have two depots, in west London at Old Oak Common and in east London at a new signalling centre at Romford.
In April 2009, Crossrail announced that 17 firms had secured 'Enabling Works Framework Agreements' and would now be able to compete for packages of works. At the peak of construction up to 14,000 people are expected to be needed in the project's supply chain.
Work began on 15 May 2009 when piling works started at the future Canary Wharf station.
The threat of diseases being released by work on the project was raised by Lord James of Blackheath at the passing of the Crossrail Bill. He told the House of Lords select committee that 682 victims of anthrax had been brought into Smithfield in Farringdon with some contaminated meat in 1520 and then buried in the area. On 24 June 2009 it was reported that no traces of anthrax or bubonic plague had been found on human bone fragments discovered during tunnelling.
Invitations to tender for the two principal tunnelling contracts were published in the Official Journal of the European Union in August 2009. 'Tunnels West' (C300) was for twin 6.2 kilometres (3.9 mi)-long tunnels from Royal Oak through to the new Crossrail Farringdon Station, with a portal west of Paddington. The 'Tunnels East' (C305) request was for three tunnel sections and 'launch chambers' in east London. Contracts were awarded in late 2010: the 'Tunnels West' contract was awarded to BAM Nuttall, Ferrovial Agroman and Kier Construction (BFK); the 'Tunnels East' contract was awarded to Dragados and John Sisk & Son. The remaining tunnelling contract (C310, Plumstead to North Woolwich), which included a tunnel under the Thames, was awarded to Hochtief and J. Murphy & Sons in 2011.
By September 2009, preparatory work for the £1 billion developments at Tottenham Court Road station had begun, with buildings (including the Astoria Theatre) being compulsorily purchased and demolished.
In March 2010, contracts were awarded to civil engineering companies for the second round of 'enabling work' including 'Royal Oak Portal Taxi Facility Demolition', 'Demolition works for Crossrail Bond Street Station', 'Demolition works for Crossrail Tottenham Court Road Station' and 'Pudding Mill Lane Portal'. In December 2010, contracts were awarded for most of the tunnelling work.
In December 2011, a contract to ship the excavated material from the tunnel to Wallasea Island was awarded to a joint venture comprising BAM Nuttall Limited and Van Oord UK Limited. Between 4.5 and 5 million tonnes of soil will be used to construct a new wetland nature reserve (Wallasea Wetlands). The project eventually moved seven million tons of earth.
In March 2013 excavations uncovered 13 skeletons 2.5 m (8 ft 2 in) under the road that surrounds the gardens in Charterhouse Square, Farringdon. The remains are thought to be of victims of the Black Death in the 14th century.
Boring of the railway tunnels was officially completed at Farringdon on 4 June 2015 in the presence of the Prime Minister and the Mayor of London.
The "Eye of the Needle" is a name that the contractors gave to a place at Tottenham Court Road station where the new tunnel had to go over existing Northern line tunnels and under an escalator tunnel, with less than a metre clearance on both top and bottom (including 85 centimetres (33 in) clearance on the bottom with the Northern line tunnels).
The project used eight 7.1-metre (23-foot) diameter tunnel-boring machines (TBM) from Herrenknecht AG (Germany). Two types are used; 'slurry' type for the Thames tunnel, which involves tunnelling through chalk; and 'Earth Pressure Balance Machines' (EPBM) for tunnelling through clay, sand and gravel (at lower levels through Lambeth Group and Thanet Sands ground formation). The TBMs weigh nearly 1,000 tonnes and are over 100 metres (330 feet) long.
The TBMs were named following tunnelling tradition. Crossrail ran a competition in January 2012 in which over 2500 entries were received and 10 pairs of names short-listed. After a public vote in February 2012, the first three pairs of names were announced on 13 March:Ada and Phyllis, Royal Oak to Farringdon section, named after Ada Lovelace and Phyllis Pearsall
Victoria and Elizabeth, Limmo Peninsula to Farringdon section, named after Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II
Mary and Sophia, Plumstead to North Woolwich section, named after the wives of Isambard Kingdom Brunel and Marc Isambard Brunel
On 16 August 2013, the names of the last pair of TBMs were announced:Jessica and Ellie, Pudding Mill Lane to Stepney Green and Limmo Peninsula to Victoria Dock sections, named after Jessica Ennis and Ellie Simmonds
In May 2012, a BFK manager challenged their subcontractor, Electrical Installations Services Ltd. (EIS), saying that one of their electricians was a trade union activist. Some days later, Pat Swift, the HR manager for BFK and a regular user of the Consulting Association, again challenged EIS. EIS refused to dismiss their worker and lost the contract. Flash pickets were held at the Crossrail site and also at the sites of the BFK partners. The Scottish Affairs Select Committee called on the UK Business Secretary, Vince Cable, to set up a government investigation into blacklisting at Crossrail. The electrician was reinstated.
In September 2012, a gantry supporting a spoil hopper at a construction site near Westbourne Park tube station, used to load rail wagons with excavated waste, collapsed, tipping sideways and causing the adjacent Network Rail line to be closed.
On 7 March 2014, Rene Tkacik, a Slovakian construction worker, was killed by a piece of falling concrete while working in a tunnel. In April 2014, The Observer reported details of a leaked internal report, compiled for the Crossrail contractors by an independent safety consultancy. The report was claimed to indicate poor industrial relations over safety issues and that workers were "too scared to report injuries for fear of being sacked".
Once fully opened, the Elizabeth line will run a familiar London Underground-style all-stops service in the central core section, but initial timetable plans suggest the western section will run skip-stop, with Acton Main Line and Hanwell served only by Heathrow-bound trains, and with West Ealing only served by trains for Maidenhead and Reading. Like the Bakerloo line's outer sections, the Elizabeth line will share platforms and tracks with other services outside the tunnelled sections. Approximately two-thirds of all Elizabeth line westbound trains are expected to terminate at Paddington. The eastern section via Stratford is expected to see an additional four trains per hour (tph) during peak times between Gidea Park and the existing main line Liverpool Street station (rather than the new station).
Initial timetable proposals consist of the following services:
In addition there will be some non-Elizabeth line services at some stations.
Prior to the opening of the main tunnels under central London, it is planned to transfer passenger operations on the outer branches of the Crossrail system to TfL for inclusion in the Crossrail concession. This transfer is taking place over several stages from May 2015. Services will begin running through the central tunnel section in 2018, although a full east–west service will not begin until December 2019 due to signalling changes on the Great Western Main Line.
During the initial phase of operation, services are to be operated by MTR under the TfL Rail brand. Following the practice adopted during the transfer of former Silverlink services to London Overground in 2007, TfL will carry out a deep clean of stations and trains on the future Elizabeth line route, install new ticket machines and barriers, introduce Oyster card and contactless payment, and ensure all stations are staffed. Existing rolling stock has been rebranded with the TfL Rail identity.
Ticketing is intended to be integrated with the other London transport systems, and Oyster pay as you go will be valid. Travelcards will be valid within Greater London with the exception of the Heathrow branch, which will continue to be subject to special fares. Crossrail has often been compared to Paris' RER system due to the length of the central tunnel. Crossrail will be integrated with the London Underground and National Rail networks, and it is planned to include it on the standard London Underground Map.
Crossrail has predicted annual passenger numbers of 200 million from its opening in late 2018; this would represent a considerable increase on the 1,700 million carried on the rail network in 2015–16, and will relieve pressure on the London Underground, especially the Central line. Farringdon is expected to become one of the busiest stations in the UK, due to it being the key interchange station with the North–South Thameslink route.
The opening of the new Crossrail station will reduce the journey time from Woolwich to Canary Wharf, Bond Street and Heathrow stations to just eight minutes, 21 minutes and 47 minutes respectively. The construction of a station at Woolwich was not proposed as part of the original Crossrail route. However, the House of Commons Select Committee recognised its inclusion in March 2007. When Crossrail becomes operational in 2018, the new station located on the south-east section of the route will see up to 12 trains an hour. It will run during peak hours, connecting south-east London and the Royal Docks with Canary Wharf, central London and beyond.
The Woolwich station is being built on the south-east portion of the Crossrail line that ends at Abbey Wood. The Woolwich redevelopment site at Royal Arsenal is a waterside housing and retail development area adjacent to the Woolwich station. It is spread across approximately 30 hectares of land and is being developed by Berkeley Homes. The site is being developed with the construction of approximately 2,517 new homes, in addition to the 1,248 homes already built. The area also includes a new heritage quarter along with the Greenwich Heritage Centre and Royal Artillery Museum, as well as infrastructural developments such as retail stores, restaurants and cafés, offices, hotels and a cinema.
A 276-metre-long (906-foot) box station sits below a major housing development site. The minimalist, straightforward design will provide entry into the station from a single 30-metre-wide (98-foot) bronze clad portal. Natural light will enter through the main entrance and ceiling into the ticket hall, whilst a connection to daylight is present below ground on the platforms. Set back from the main street and surrounded by a series of heritage listed buildings and a large retail unit, the station acts as a simple portal connecting all these elements together. The station entrance opens out on to Dial Arch Square, a green space, flanked by a series of Grade I and II listed buildings. In addition to enhancing the experience in and out of the station, the urban realm design also helps connect the station with the wider town centre. In addition to the station improvements, Crossrail has been working with the Royal Borough of Greenwich on proposals for improvements to the area around the station.
As part of the former Labour government's plans for the High Speed 2 rail link from London to Birmingham, a Crossrail-High Speed 2 interchange would be built at Old Oak Common (between Paddington and Acton Main Line stations). This would be built as part of High Speed 2 (which would start construction, under Labour's plans, in 2017), so would not be built in the first phase of Crossrail. It would provide interchange to other mainline and TfL lines. The succeeding Conservative-Liberal Democrat government adopted that proposal in the plans it put forward for public consultation. This means it is likely to go forward as part of High Speed 2, potentially giving Crossrail an interchange with High Speed 2, the Great Western Main Line (GWML), Central line and London Overground services running through the area.
This would lead to the demolition of the Old Oak Common MPD, the last steam-era shed still standing in London. It was announced in 2008 that Crossrail had acquired the shed, with the indication that the shed would have to go before Crossrail opened in 2014. This related to the original G. J. Churchward-designed roundhouse (originally housed four turntables, now reduced to one), and the British Railways-built Blue Pullman shed built to house the Class 251 and 261 trains running between London Paddington, Birmingham, Wolverhampton, and Bristol. The compulsory purchase order used to acquire Old Oak Common does not include the carriage workshop there, or the Old Oak Common TMD used by GWR further down the line.
London City Airport has proposed the re-opening of Silvertown railway station, in order to create an interchange between the rail line and the airport. The self-funded £50m station plan is supported 'in principle' by the London Borough of Newham. Provisions for re-opening of the station were made in 2012 by Crossrail. However, it is alleged by the airport that Transport for London is hostile to the idea of a station on the site, a claim disputed by TfL.
According to the original plans, the western terminus of Crossrail was planned to be Maidenhead. Various commentators advocated an extension of the route further west as far as Reading, especially as it was seen as complementary to the Great Western Electrification project which was announced in July 2009. A Reading terminus was also recommended by Network Rail's 2011 Route Utilisation Strategy.
The UK Government and Transport for London evaluated the option of extending to Reading and in March 2014 it was announced that the extension from Maidenhead to Reading would form part of the core Crossrail network from the outset.
There was controversy about Crossrail in Reading. The Labour council supported an extension to Reading but the Conservative MP for Reading East, Rob Wilson, expressed concerns that Crossrail trains (which will call at every station) will actually be slower than the present Reading-Paddington service. According to Wilson, "We need the right Crossrail, not any Crossrail". Most existing fast services between Reading and Paddington will remain after the introduction of Crossrail, however, as there are only paths for the additional two services per hour which the latter will provide.
Network Rail's July 2011 London & South East Route Utilisation Strategy (RUS) recommended diverting West Coast Main Line (WCML) services from stations between London and Milton Keynes Central away from Euston, to Crossrail via Old Oak Common, to free up capacity at Euston for High Speed 2. This would provide a direct service from the WCML to the Shenfield, Canary Wharf and Abbey Wood, release London Underground capacity at Euston, make better use of Crossrail's capacity west of Paddington, and improve access to Heathrow Airport from the north. Under this scheme, all Crossrail trains would continue west of Paddington, instead of some of them terminating there. They would serve Heathrow Airport (10 tph), stations to Maidenhead and Reading (6 tph), and stations to Milton Keynes Central (8 tph).
In August 2014, a statement by the transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin indicated that the government was actively evaluating the extension of Crossrail as far as Tring, with potential Crossrail stops at Wembley Central, Harrow & Wealdstone, Bushey, Watford Junction, Kings Langley, Apsley, Hemel Hempstead and Berkhamsted. The extension would relieve some pressure from London Underground and London Euston station while also increasing connectivity. Conditions to the extension are that any extra services would not affect the planned service pattern for confirmed routes, as well as affordability. This proposal was subsequently shelved in August 2016 due to "poor overall value for money to the taxpayer".
The route to Gravesend has been safeguarded by the Department for Transport, although it was made clear that as at February 2008 there was no plan to extend Crossrail beyond the then-current scheme. The following stations are on the protected route extension to Gravesend: Belvedere, Erith, Slade Green, Dartford, Stone Crossing, Greenhithe for Bluewater, Swanscombe, Northfleet, and Gravesend.
The RUS also proposes integrating Heathrow Express services from Heathrow Terminal 5 into Crossrail to relieve the GWML and reduce the need for passengers to change at Paddington.
Crossrail 2 is a proposed rail route in South East England, running from nine stations in Surrey to three in Hertfordshire providing a new rail link across London on the Crossrail network. It would connect the South Western Main Line to the West Anglia Main Line, via Victoria and Kings Cross St Pancras, intended to alleviate severe overcrowding that would otherwise occur on commuter rail routes into Central London by the 2030s.
Crossrail is being built by Crossrail Ltd, jointly owned by Transport for London and the Department for Transport until December 2008, when full ownership was transferred to TfL. Crossrail has a £15.9 billion funding package in place for the construction of the line. Although the branch lines to the west and to Shenfield will still be owned by Network Rail, the tunnel will be owned and operated by TfL.
On 18 July 2014, TfL London Rail said that MTR Corp had won the concession to operate the services for eight years, with an option for two more years. The concession will be similar to London Overground. It is planned to initially let the franchise for eight years from 2015, taking over control of Shenfield metro services from Abellio Greater Anglia in May 2015, and Reading / Heathrow services from Great Western Railway in 2018.
In anticipation of an May 2015 transfer of Shenfield to Liverpool Street services from the Greater Anglia franchise to Crossrail, the invitation to tender for the 2012–2013 franchise required the new rail operator to set up a separate "Crossrail Business Unit" for those services before the end of 2012. This unit was to allow transfer of services to the new Crossrail Train Operating Concession (CTOC) operator during the next franchise.
There had been complaints from music fans, as the redevelopment of the area forced the closure of a number of historic music venues. The London Astoria, the Astoria 2, The Metro, Sin nightclub and The Ghetto have been demolished to allow expansion of the ticket hall and congestion relief at Tottenham Court Road tube station in advance of the arrival of Crossrail.
There was considerable annoyance in Reading that Crossrail would terminate at Maidenhead, not Reading. The promoters and the government had always stressed that there was nothing to prevent extension to Reading in future if it could be justified. In February 2008 it was announced that the route for an extension to Reading was being safeguarded. This became more likely once the government announced that the Great Western Main Line was to be electrified beyond Reading regardless of Crossrail. In March 2014 it was announced that the route would indeed be extended to Reading.
In February 2010, Crossrail was accused of bullying residents whose property lay on the route into selling up for less than the market value. A subsequent London Assembly report was highly critical of the insensitive way in which Crossrail had dealt with compulsory purchases and the lack of assistance given to the people and businesses affected.