The 21st of May is an important day for the Elizabeth Line and the Crossrail project, as the full peak timetable will finally go into effect.
It’s a rather big change, with a train operating in the core section roughly every two and a half minutes between Paddington and Whitechapel at peak time with frequencies increased to up to 24 trains per hour in both directions.
The full timetable is available to view on the TfL website: https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/elizabeth-line/elizabeth-line-timetables, but here are some highlights of the changes.
Core Section (Paddington to Abbey Wood and Whitechapel)
Peak time frequencies will increase from 22 to up to 24 trains per hour between Paddington and Whitechapel, with 16 trains per hour running off-peak.
There will be 12 trains per hour running between Canary Wharf and Abbey Wood in the peak, restoring the frequency that was in place between May and November 2022 to a train around every five minutes.
Heathrow Airport Branch
For those of you travelling to Heathrow Airport, there will be a growth in services. The airport overall will receive six trains per hour all day. All Heathrow trains stop at Terminal 2&3, with four per hour continuing to Terminal 4, and two per hour continuing to Terminal 5.
Heathrow Airport has also improved signage at the airport, which should make it clearer for customers, particularly those visiting London or using the Elizabeth Line for the first time.
For those using the Abbey Wood – Heathrow services, to reach Terminal 5, you will need to change at Heathrow Terminals 2&3 and wait for a connecting service.
Both Rail and Piccadilly line travel between Heathrow’s terminals is free, including using the Piccadilly line to Hatton Cross, although you may need a free inter-terminal transfer ticket from one of the machines in the station for your journey.
More information about travelling between Heathrow’s terminals is available here: https://www.heathrow.com/at-the-airport/airport-maps/travel-between-terminals.
Eastern Section (to Gidea Park and Shenfield)
Services will also run all day between Shenfield and Heathrow Airport (Terminal 5) for the first time, with two trains per hour providing direct connectivity between Essex, East London and West London.
There will be additional services in the east too, with more peak times services between Liverpool Street High Level and Gidea Park.
Western Section (to Slough and Reading)
At the western end of the Elizabeth Line, peak services will be strengthened to Reading, with some trains that were previously operated by Great Western Railway transferring to become Elizabeth Line services with reduced stops.
More importantly, the timetable pauses for trains between Paddington and Acton Main Line should reduce. This was introduced to allow time for trains to wait to join Network Rail tracks or enter Elizabeth Line tunnels. These pauses were built into the timetable, but customers on these services should see reduced journey times between Reading, Heathrow and Paddington as this padding is removed.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said:
“Delivering the Elizabeth line has been transformational for our city, with hundreds of thousands of Londoners and visitors now enjoying the fast and reliable trains each day. The introduction of the final timetable next month marks the last milestone of the Crossrail project and will enable the Elizabeth line to provide even more frequent, speedier journeys and better connect the capital.”
Andy Lord, London’s Transport Commissioner, said:
“The Elizabeth line has transformed the lives of Londoners and the experience for visitors to the city in just under a year of TfL operating the service. With this new timetable, those travelling through central London will have a train arriving around every two and a half minutes, those using Heathrow Airport will have more regular services, and time will be shaved off many journeys from Reading, Heathrow and into central London. Those on the east will also benefit from twice hourly services to the airport, linking Essex and west London on the line for the first time.”
The Capstone on Crossrail
It’s been a long time since the Crossrail was approved in 2007, with the extensive works that have been needed to enable the line to operate (as well as the budget overruns).
It’s over 11 months since Transport for London started to operate the Elizabeth Line over the Crossrail tracks, with TfL reporting that more than 140 million customer journeys have taken place so far, with around 600,000 journeys now being made each weekday.
And the programme of work has had major changes in how people in the capital – as well as the associated works, to allow for step-free access at stations (both rail and underground stations), the fitment of massive new stations within the core and the infrastructure to support it.
And yes – it will get busy.
That’s the thing about high-quality public transport. If you build it and build it well, passengers will use it.
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