BBC Two go ‘Inside the Elizabeth Line’

Best on the Box choice for June 12th…

A new documentary series, The Fifteen Billion Pound Railway: Inside the Elizabeth Line, begins tonight.

BBC Two has exclusive access to Crossrail Ltd and Transport for London, for this fourth and final chapter of the long-running documentary series.  During the two 60 minute episodes, it follows the race to fix the railway’s high-tech software and systems to launch the new Elizabeth Line in time for the Queens Platinum Jubilee.

Securing unprecedented behind-the-scenes access to this highly anticipated, brand new rail line, the series will take viewers beyond the shiny new stations and trains, so well documented when the Elizabeth Line opened last month. Instead, the series will reveal what caused the delays to the world’s first fully digital railway line and how the whole project was rescued in order to launch the railway line in time for its ultimate 2022 deadline.

The fifteen-billion-pound railway – now nineteen billion and still rising – stretches 120km across London in what has become an extraordinary construction project – one of the biggest in Europe and one of the most ambitious engineering feats in Britain since the time of Brunel.

For over ten years cameras have followed the engineers, technicians and transport staff who are under pressure to deliver their section of the project, including construction fixes in the tunnels, safety testing of the stations and the testing the complex bug-ridden train software, in a bid to make it safe for passengers.

Guiding us through this labyrinth of construction and testing is Crossrail’s new CEO Mark Wild – the person tasked with getting Britain’s flagship engineering project back on track. With an in-depth knowledge of railway engineering and new leadership techniques, his reputation is on the line should the opening of the railway be delayed further.

The show joins Pradeep Vasudev the project’s head technician responsible for integrating the complex lines of code that powers the signalling and train software – the area responsible for delaying the project by years.  Pradeep and his lead technicians run thousands of tests to debug the safety-critical software that allows the trains to run on the track.

The programme also catches up with charismatic train driver Emma Knowles – a former London bus driver of 15 years – as she applies all of her training to drive the new Elizabeth Line trains during crucial timetable trials.

The first episode ends with train testing in the tunnels and across the tracks of London’s commuter network – running into problems, leaving lots more work for the team to do if they’re deliver the railway by 2022.  With the project almost four billion pounds overbudget and nearly four years late, every hour is critical in the race to launch the railway.

The Fifteen Billion Pound Railway: Inside the Elizabeth Line, tonight at 8 pm on BBC Two. The second episode airs in the same slot next week.

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