The Elizabeth Line (the heavy-rail link across London) is set for some major changes, as it prepares for high-frequency services and lines being linked up.
From Sunday 6 November, the lines from Reading, Heathrow (in the west), and Shenfield (in the east) will connect with the central tunnels of the Elizabeth line – opening up new direct journeys across the capital.
This means that customers travelling from Reading and Heathrow will be able to travel east all the way to Abbey Wood without changing at Paddington. For those travelling from Shenfield, you will be able to travel west all the way to Paddington without changing at Liverpool Street. Journeys to onward destinations, including to Heathrow Airport or towards Reading, can be made by changing trains on the same platform at any of the central London stations.
Up until then, the Elizabeth line will continue to operate as three separate units:
- The line operating between Abbey Wood and Paddington that operates in the Crossrail core
- The west lines operating from Paddington to Hayes and Harlington, Heathrow and Reading
- The east lines operating between Liverpool Street and Shenfield.
With the integration of Elizabeth line services, it will bring a huge range of extra benefits, including reduced journey times, additional capacity, greater accessibility, and better connectivity
One that will be important to readers of this blog will be those landing at Heathrow Airport, being able to travel through central London to areas such as Farringdon and Canary Wharf in as little as 36 and 45 minutes respectively on the weekend and 40 and 51 minutes respectively during the week.
This would negate the need to change at Paddington for the Heathrow Express for passengers wishing to head directly to the City of London or Canary Wharf.
Sunday running will also come to the Elizabeth Line too for Sunday 6 November. The frequency of services in the central section between Paddington and Whitechapel will increase from 12 trains per hour to up to 22 trains per hour in peak times and 16 trains per hour during off-peak.
The final timetable, which will see 24 trains per hour during the peak between Paddington and Whitechapel, is set to be delivered by May 2023.
Finally, Bond Street Elizabeth line station is in line to open ahead of the new services on the railway.
Andy Byford, London’s Transport Commissioner, said:
“When we delivered on our promise to open the central section of the Elizabeth line in the first half of this year, I further promised that Bond Street station would open this autumn and that the next phase of the line opening would also be achieved within that timeframe. I am excited to see the Elizabeth line unlock quicker and better journey options, greater accessibility, and further connectivity to jobs and leisure for even more people. This will be another giant leap for London’s public transport system, which supports economic growth in the capital and right across the country.”
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said:
“The opening of the new Elizabeth line has been a landmark moment, not just for London but for the entire country, helping to contribute £42bn to the national economy.
“It’s great news that from November, Elizabeth line trains will run directly from Reading and Heathrow to Abbey Wood, and from Shenfield to Paddington, seven days a week. Services running on Sundays through central London will also make thousands more journeys quicker, easier and more comfortable.
“This enhanced capacity on the Elizabeth line will play a crucial role in encouraging people to make the most of the capital and will help support businesses in the heart of our city.”
Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps said:
“Just under three months ago, I had the pleasure of riding on the very first Elizabeth line service, which thanks to £9bn of Government investment, has already created 55,000 jobs across the UK, and will contribute £42bn to the economy and seen a whopping 11 million journeys.
“From November, even more passengers will be able to benefit from this fantastic line with the introduction of Sunday services, direct journeys to Berkshire and Essex and a brand new station at Bond Street.”
Ross Baker Heathrow Chief Commercial Officer said:
“This is a huge step in boosting rail connections to the UK’s hub airport directly linking Canary Wharf with Heathrow by rail for the first time. This gives our passengers and colleagues more choices to travel sustainably between Heathrow and London. I am delighted Heathrow will continue to be at the heart of a growing integrated transport network and our passengers and colleagues will reap the benefits.”
Ros Morgan, Chief Executive, Heart of London Business Alliance, said:
“It’s fantastic news that the Elizabeth line is reaching another milestone. London’s transport network helps to increase footfall and supports the businesses and cultural institutions of the West End, and this improved connectivity and accessibility comes at a time when our members need it the most. World-class transport and infrastructure sends the message loud and clear that as a city, we are open to residents, workers and visitors.”
Dee Corsi, COO, New West End Company:
“The highly-anticipated opening of the Bond Street Elizabeth line station this autumn will build on the successes of the station in Tottenham Court Road earlier this year. The delivery of a modern and efficient transport infrastructure will only further the West End’s recovery, and allow our renowned restaurants, shops and bars to flourish.
“Overseas visitors, who are vital to the long term success of our recovery, will soon be able to travel directly from Heathrow Airport to the heart of the West End in just over 30 minutes. This influx of international customers, alongside an increase in domestic shoppers, will be a huge boost to one of the world’s leading retail and leisure destinations.”
11 Million Journeys since May
The Elizabeth line’s Crossrail core section is in strong use since its opening in May 2022, where it has seen over 11 million journeys since it opened – equating to over 200,000 daily trips a day.
That’s only going to increase – with the line operating hours being increased from Monday 5 September, with services running from around 05:30 to around 23:00 on the Paddington and Abbey Wood section. When the lines are connected, that number is only going to head in one direction.
Some services will still continue to serve Paddington and Liverpool Street – as usual, check when you travel where your train is going.
As for Heathrow Express…
With direct services on the table direct from Heathrow to serve the West End, The City and Docklands, the Heathrow Express time advantage could well be eroded over the next few months. Whilst there is a concession agreement to operate it still, I know which I’d prefer to get across London.
And beyond West London.
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