After years of discussion, various proposals and more than a few delays, the Elizabeth Line in London is set to open to the public on 24th May.
What is going on and what to expect? Well, here are more than a few thoughts, assumptions and darn good guesses.
Show me a two-minute guide.
Geoff Marshall is here explaining it for you.
— Geoff Marshall (@geofftech) May 21, 2022
(and it goes without saying, subscribe to his channel).
What is the Elizabeth Line?
The first part of the Elizabeth Line is the deliverable of the Crossrail project – allowing direct transit through central London, from west to east and vice versa. It has required the building of new stations at Paddington (Low Level), Bond Street (opening later), Tottenham Court Road, Farringdon, Liverpool Street/Moorgate (Lower Level), Whitechapel, Canary Wharf, Customs House, Woolwich and Abbey Wood.
I’ve heard this called “Crossrail” or “Elizabeth Line”. Which is it?
It’s easier to think about as two distinct entities:
- The Elizabeth Line is the branding of the service that will go through the new tunnels
- Crossrail is the project to deliver the project that the Elizabeth Line will run on.
Although we’ll all be calling it Crossrail for years to come.
Is it a London Underground Line?
Let us settle this once and for all – it is not a London Underground or “Tube” Line. It is a heavy rail line that runs underground and is operated by a national rail concession operator.
For those who still think it’s an underground line, it is a heavy rail line, built to main-line standards as opposed to tube sizes. The other way to consider it is as an RER Line or Thameslink – a heavy rail service that cuts across the city.
Also, it is marked the same way as other heavy rail services (London Overground, Thameslink). So heavy rail it is.
New Tube map just dropped 👇 pic.twitter.com/oJdFBzCevd
— Transport for London (@TfL) May 19, 2022
What’s opening first?
According to TfL, the following will operate until autumn 2022:
- There will be 12 trains an hour (a train every 5 minutes), running between Paddington and Abbey Wood from 06:30 – 23:00, Monday to Saturday. Bond Street is currently closed and will open later this year.
- There will be no Sunday services. A special service will operate on Sunday 5 June 2022 for the Platinum Jubilee weekend running from 08:00-22:00
- Services between Liverpool Street and Shenfield, and Paddington to Heathrow and Reading will continue to operate on Sundays as they do now
The other routes that have been branded TfL Rail will be rebranded Elizabeth Line but will operate to their current terminals. For reference they are:
- Reading/Maidenhead/Hayes and Harlington to London Paddington (High Level) – all stops
- Heathrow Terminal 5/Heathrow Terminal 4/Heathrow Central to London Paddington (High Level) – all stops
- Shenfield/Gidea Park/Ilford to London Liverpool Street (High Level)
Elizabeth line passenger travelling between:
- Shenfield and the central section of the route will need to change trains at Liverpool Street, walk to/from the new Elizabeth line Liverpool Street station
- Reading or Heathrow and the central section will need to change trains at Paddington, walking to/from the new Paddington Elizabeth line station
- Paddington and Abbey Wood only will not need to change
What will happen in the future?
The lines from Reading, Heathrow and Shenfield will connect with the central tunnels, so customers travelling:
- From Reading and Heathrow can travel east all the way to Abbey Wood without changing at Paddington
- From Shenfield can travel west all the way to Paddington without changing at Liverpool Street
By May 2023:
- The separate sections of the Elizabeth Line will be fully connected and you will be able to travel seamlessly from Abbey Wood to Heathrow and Reading, and from Shenfield to Heathrow
- 24 trains an hour will run at the busiest times between Paddington and Whitechapel
Wait. Isn’t Liverpool Street station in Liverpool?
No, it isn’t. Don’t make me come over there.
What trains will be available?
The Elizabeth Line will use 9-car Class 345 trains as used on TfL Rail services. These have replaced the mixture of old and new trains that were used out of Paddington and Liverpool Street.
They’re perfectly adequate commuter trains. Although those who need the small room will be disappointed, as these have no toilets in them. There is plenty of accessible seating (both traverse and longitudadle), as well as cycle and buggy bays too.
These trains are optimised for standing space, however…
Talk Tickets to me
I do like it when you talk money to me.
The Elizabeth Line is fully integrated into the TfL Zonal fare system – so if you’re used to the TfL Fare system, you will be good to go
TfL’s Oyster card is accepted on the Elizabeth line except for stations west of West Drayton both in Pay-as-you-go and in Travelcard format. If you are travelling to or from stations beyond West Drayton will need to use contactless instead or buy a paper ticket
Contactless payment methods for Pay-As-You-Go (Contactless bank card, Apple Pay, Google Wallet, Samsung Pay etc) will be accepted throughout the route.
You need to touch out at Paddington and Liverpool Street to change for trains towards Reading, Heathrow or Shenfield, although daily and weekly price capping applies if you’re using Pay-As-You-Go
TfL Connsession cards are accepted on the route (depending on the validity of the card). If you are travelling with a Railcard discount set on their Oyster card benefit from 1/3 off off-peak pay as you go fares
And yes – you can get paper tickets. Although these are the most expensive way to travel
The full breakdown is at https://tfl.gov.uk/fares/
Is it going to be a big change for London?
Yes. The Elizabeth Line will open up new journey possibilities, speed up journeys and offer new connectivity.
It’s just taken a little longer than expected to arrive.
When is the proof of the pudding?
The first trains depart around 06:30. We’ll see soon enough if they hold up with the demand…
Welcome to Economy Class and Beyond – Your no-nonsense guide to network news, honest reviews, featuring in-depth coverage, unique research, as well as the humour and madness I only know how to deliver.
Also remember that we are part of the BoardingArea community, bringing you the latest frequent flyer news from around the world.