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Crossrail in numbers

Crossrail is among the most significant infrastructure projects ever undertaken in the UK. From improving journey times across London, to easing congestion and offering better connections, Crossrail will change the way people travel around the capital.

General Crossrail info

  • Crossrail Limited is building the Elizabeth line - a new railway for London and the South East, running from Reading and Heathrow in the west, through 42km of new tunnels under London to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east.
  • The £14.8 billion Crossrail project is currently Europe’s largest infrastructure project.
  • The new railway, which will be known as the Elizabeth line when services begin in 2018, will be fully integrated with London’s existing transport network and will be operated by Transport for London.
  • The Elizabeth line will stretch more than 60 miles / over 100km from Reading and Heathrow in the west through central tunnels across to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east.
  • The new railway - currently being built by Crossrail Ltd. - will stop at 41 accessible stations, 10 newly built and 30 newly upgraded.
  • The first Elizabeth line services through central London will start in late 2018 – an estimated 200 million annual passengers will use Crossrail. 
  • The Elizabeth line will serve 41 stations including 10 new stations at Paddington, Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road, Farringdon, Liverpool Street, Whitechapel, Canary Wharf, Custom House, Woolwich and Abbey Wood.
  • Crossrail will bring an extra 1.5 million people to within 45 minutes of central London and will link London’s key employment, leisure and business districts – Heathrow, West End, the City, Docklands – enabling further economic development.
  • Construction of the new railway will support regeneration across the capital and add an estimated £42bn to the economy of the UK.
  • Over 100 million working hours have been completed on the Crossrail project so far.

Increased capacity:

  • The Elizabeth line will transform rail transport in London and the south east, increasing central London rail capacity by 10% - the largest increase since World War 2. This will reduce congestion and allow for more comfortable journey conditions.
  • Congestion at many London Underground stations will be reduced, even for those that are not on the Elizabeth line route – such as Oxford Circus.

Improved connectivity:

  • The Elizabeth line will improve connectivity: it will make it easier for businesses to move about London, to meet clients and negotiate with suppliers.
  • Moreover, the Elizabeth line will make accessing our major international gateways like London Heathrow more accessible - for instance, the journey time from London Heathrow to the City of London (Liverpool Street) will fall from 55 to 34 minutes.
  • The new railway will increase the number of people who are able to access employment destinations throughout London.  This will enable businesses to access the people with the skills they need to be able to compete and succeed, and to open up new employment opportunities for individuals.
  • The Elizabeth line will bring 1.5 million more people within a 45 minutes commute of the existing major employment centres of the West End, the City and Canary Wharf (up from five million currently).
  • This improved connectivity will also be designed to help people with restricted mobility.  The new stations will have step-free access from platform to street level and for the majority of interchanges with other London Underground and national rail services: 95% of journeys are forecast to have a step-free origin and destination station.

Current construction activity

  • Work is underway installing architectural finishes at the flagship new Elizabeth line stations in central London and Docklands.
  • The delivery of Crossrail will create thousands of business and job opportunities. Over 700 apprenticeships have been created by Crossrail Limited and their contractors during the construction and fit-out of the new stations and tunnels under London, far surpassing the original target of 400 apprenticeships.

Tunnelling information

  • For just over three years, eight giant tunnel boring machines burrowed below the streets of London to construct 42km of new rail tunnels.
  • Each tunnelling machine was 1,000 tonne, 150 metres long underground factory with 20 person ‘tunnel gangs’ working in shifts around the clock between 4 May 2012 and 26 May 2015.
  • Crossrail's tunnelling programme was calculated around a "long average" target of around 100 metres of tunnelling progress per week.  
  • The fastest day of tunnelling by a single machine was 72 metres by Ellie on 16 April 2014 between Pudding Mill Lane and Stepney Green. Crossrail tunnelling progressed at a collective average of 38 metres per day.
  • Over 200,000 tunnel segments were used to line the 42 kilometres of tunnels.
  • 5 twin-bore tunnel drives were undertaken to construct Crossrail’s tunnels, which are:
    • Royal Oak to Farringdon west (Drive X) - two 6.8km rail tunnels, constructed by tunnelling machines Phyllis and Ada, were completed in October 2013 and January 2014 respectively.
    • Limmo to Farringdon east (Drive Y) – two 8.3km rail tunnels, constructed by tunnelling machines Elizabeth and Victoria, were completed in May 2015.
    • Pudding Mill Lane to Stepney Green (Drive Z) - Tunnel boring machines Jessica and Ellie completed their 2.7km tunnel drives from Pudding Mill Lane portal near Stratford to Stepney Green in February 2014 and June 2014 respectively.
    • Limmo to Victoria Dock Portal (Drive G) - Tunnelling machines Jessica and Ellie have also completed their second tunnel drives - a 900 metre drive from Limmo Peninsula in Canning Town and Victoria Dock Portal. 
    • Plumstead to North Woolwich (Drive H) - In south-east London, tunnelling machines Sophia and Mary have completed their 2.9km drives from Plumstead to North Woolwich.
  • Over 3 million tonnes of excavated material from the tunnels was shipped to Wallasea Island in Essex to create a new 1,500 acre RSPB nature reserve.

Crossrail, jobs and Supply Chain

  • Over the course of the project, we expect there to be at least 75,000 opportunities for businesses, generating enough work to support the equivalent of 55,000 full time jobs.
  • It’s not just London and the South East that will benefit from Crossrail. Firms right around the country and of all sizes are winning business:
    • 96% of contracts have been awarded to companies based within the UK
    • 62% are outside London
    • 62% are small and medium sized businesses.
    • 44% of small and medium sized businesses said they made new contacts because of their work on Crossrail

Skills and Legacy

  • Crossrail has already exceed its target of over 400 Apprenticeships to be created on the project
  • More than 1,000 apprenticeships created by Crossrail Limited, Network Rail, Bombardier Transportation and MTR Crossrail during delivery of the Crossrail programme.
  • 20,000 people received training at the Tunnelling and Underground Construction Academy in Ilford, which has now been taken on by Transport for London.
  • More than 5,000 unemployed and local people employed thanks to a partnership between Crossrail contractors and Jobcentre Plus.
  • Over 40,000 students taught about the project and engineering through the Young Crossrail programme that partnered with local schools along the route.
  • The Tunnelling and Underground Construction Academy (TUCA) is a purpose-built training facility that supports the key skills required to work in tunnel excavation, underground construction and infrastructure.
  • Crossrail established an accredited Tunnel Safety Card (TSC) in response to an industry need for standardised tunnelling health and safety training.


  • 84 per cent of construction machinery in the central section were fitted with pollutant reducing emission controls
  • 98 per cent of material excavated from sites was beneficially reused
  • Over 700 apprenticeships have been created by Crossrail Limited and their contractors during the construction and fit-out of the new stations and tunnels under London, far surpassing the original target of 400 apprenticeships
  • 27 per cent of new apprentices enrolled in the past 12 months are female
  • More than 5,000 unemployed and local people employed thanks to a partnership between Crossrail contractors and Jobcentre Plus
  • Over 20,000 people have received training at the Tunnelling and Underground Construction Academy in Ilford
  • 96 per cent of the contracts awarded by Crossrail were to UK companies with 62 per cent of suppliers based outside London.

Property Impacts

  • Research undertaken by property consultants GVA shows that from 2008 to 2013, 41% of planning applications within a kilometre of a Crossrail station cited the new railway as a justification for the development proceeding, equating to around 3 million square feet of residential, commercial and retail space.
  • Crossrail could help create £5.5 billion in added value to residential and commercial real estate along its route between 2012 and 2021, according to research for Crossrail by GVA.
  • Crossrail will support the delivery of over 57,000 new homes and 3.25 million square metres of commercial space.
  • Commercial office values around Crossrail stations in central London will increase over the next decade, with an uplift of 10 per cent in capital value above an already rising baseline projection.
  • Residential capital values are projected to increase immediately around Crossrail stations in central London by 25 per cent, and by 20 per cent in the suburbs, again above a rising baseline projection.
  • Significant property investment could take place at locations including Canary Wharf, Farringdon, Whitechapel, Abbey Wood, Custom House, Ealing Broadway, Southall and Woolwich.
  • Crossrail is already having an impact on property investment decisions particularly in central London.
  • The impact of Crossrail on residential property market will also extend out to Berkshire and Essex.


Trains will start operating in five phases:

  • June 2017: Liverpool Street to Shenfield (TfL Rail)
  • May 2018: Heathrow to Paddington (mainline platforms) (TfL Rail)
  • December 2018: Paddington (Elizabeth line platforms) to Abbey Wood, through the new central tunnels
  • May 2019: Paddington (Elizabeth line platforms) to Shenfield
  • December 2019: Full through service (including Elizabeth line services to Reading)

Page last updated December 2017.