- Services on the transformational railway will start running from 06:30 this morning between Paddington and Abbey Wood
- On Monday evening, iconic London landmarks, including the London Eye and ExCeL London, turned purple to celebrate the opening of the Elizabeth line
- Trains running every five minutes 06:30 – 23:00 Monday to Saturday between Paddington and Abbey Wood
The transformational Elizabeth line is opening today (Tuesday 24 May) with thousands customers due to make fast and seamless journeys through the heart of London in the first trains to depart from the new section of the railway. The new railway, which is supporting faster journeys across London, and new jobs and economic growth throughout the country, is the most significant addition to the capital’s transport network for a generation.
Thousands of excited customers will be welcomed by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, London’s Transport Commissioner, Andy Byford, Elizabeth line Director, Howard Smith, TfL Chief Operating Officer, Andy Lord, and Crossrail CEO, Mark Wild, on the first trains from Paddington and Abbey Wood.
Nine brand new stations in central London are opening providing Elizabeth line services every five minutes from 06:30 until 23:00 Monday to Saturday and the railways route now appears on the iconic Tube map.
The new railway will provide new journey options and support wider regeneration and recovery from the pandemic - creating jobs, business opportunities and a huge economic boost for the country. It will also connect London’s major employment centres and increase central London’s rail capacity by 10 per cent, the largest single increase in the capital’s transport capacity in more than 70 years.
Businesses from right around the UK have benefited from work connected to the Elizabeth line. Throughout its construction, the railway has had an extensive supply chain which has supported businesses of all sizes, and jobs and skills creation across the whole country. The Class 345 trains running on the Elizabeth line were built in Derby, roundels and signage for the line were supplied by a family-run business on the Isle of Wight, and a company based in Leeds strengthened and protected London's Victorian sewer networks during construction.
Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Earl of Wessex, visited Paddington Elizabeth line station to mark the completion of the new railway last week. Eight buses with special commemorative wraps are currently in service across the capital as part of Transport for London's celebrations to mark Her Majesty The Queen's Platinum Jubilee.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Today is an historic day as the Elizabeth line opens to passengers. This is a huge moment, not just for London but the entire country – particularly in this special Jubilee year.
“This brand new line is the most significant addition to our transport network in decades. It will add billions to our economy and is set to serve up to 200 million passengers each year. I’m sure passengers will enjoy the modern trains, beautiful step-free stations and the reduced journey times across the capital and the South East.
“The Elizabeth line is much more than just a new railway – it will provide a crucial economic boost to the whole country and help to turbo-charge our recovery from the pandemic.”
Andy Byford, London's Transport Commissioner, said: “After years of hard work, I'm delighted that we are opening this transformational railway with an enormous contribution from TfL and industry colleagues who helped get the project open. I’m looking forward to welcoming our first customers early this morning with immense pride and excitement. This is a truly historic moment for the capital and the UK.
“The Elizabeth line will help transform life and travel in London and the South East by dramatically improving transport links, cutting journey times, providing additional capacity, and transforming accessibility with these spacious, uncluttered new stations and walk-through trains. I encourage everyone to visit and use our stunning new addition to the transport network.”
Emma Gibson, CEO of London TravelWatch, said: “The new Elizabeth Line is a great addition to London’s transport system and will make some journeys from east to west in the capital much quicker than taking the Tube. Every station pretty much has step free access meaning that more people can use it, and that’s critically important for disabled Londoners to be able to get around town. The walk through carriages are something that women have told us they like as it improves their sense of safety when travelling.”
Darren Caplan, Chief Executive of the Railway Industry Association (RIA), commented: “The Elizabeth line really is an exceptional achievement for TfL, Government and the UK railway industry. It is a bold project that will not only transform how passengers travel across London, but it will also boost economic growth for the capital and the country as a whole.
“Railway businesses from all over the UK have played a key role in making this landmark project happen, whether train manufacturing in Derby, station construction in the East Midlands, signalling expertise from Chippenham and Stockport, or telecoms in London. Furthermore, the scheme has supported thousands of skilled railway jobs and significant investment in other parts of the economy beyond rail.
“With passengers now returning there is a strong long-term future for rail, and the Elizabeth line will make that future even brighter.”
The Elizabeth line will be crucial to London’s recovery from the pandemic, helping avoid a car-led recovery by providing new journey options, supporting regeneration across the capital, and adding an estimated £42bn to the UK economy. London is paying for most of the Elizabeth line, with nearly 70 per cent of the total funding paid by London - made up of roughly 30 per cent from London's farepayers, around 40 per cent from London's businesses - combined with 30 per cent from Government.
All services between Reading and Heathrow to Paddington and Shenfield to Liverpool Street, previously operating as TfL Rail, have been rebranded to the Elizabeth line. Customers travelling between Reading or Heathrow into London will need to change at Paddington for services into the central section of the route, and customers from Shenfield into London will need to change at Liverpool Street. Services from Reading, Heathrow and Shenfield will connect with the central tunnels in autumn when frequencies will also be increased to 22 trains per hour in the peak between Paddington and Whitechapel. Work will continue in engineering hours and on Sundays to allow a series of testing and software updates in preparation for more these more intensive services. Bond Street’s new Elizabeth line station will also open to passengers later this year as work continues to complete the station.
Although Elizabeth line services will not run on Sundays until later this year, there will be a Sunday service across the route on Sunday 5 June to help customers celebrate the Platinum Jubilee.
Customers can now plan their journeys on the Elizabeth line using the TfL Go app and Journey Planner. The new railway connects stations such as Paddington to Canary Wharf in only 17 minutes, transforming how Londoners and visitors can navigate the capital. This journey currently takes more than 30 minutes to complete using the Tube.
All Elizabeth line stations will be staffed from first to the last train, with a 'turn up and go' service offered to anyone needing assistance. Step-free access is in place from street to train across all Elizabeth line stations between Paddington and Woolwich. It has been integrated with the TfL network, interchanges with other services including Tube, DLR, London Overground and National Rail services.
Each of the new stations in the central section has its own distinct character, conceived by different architects, which reflects the environment and heritage of the local area. However, at platform level, common design components such as seating, signage and full-height platform screen doors create a consistent and familiar feel to the rest of the TfL network. 31 of the 41 stations along the Elizabeth line route are on the surface rail network to the east and west. Upgrades to these stations included platform lengthening, improved customer information screens, signage, new ticket machines and CCTV.
Changes have also been made to 14 bus routes to improve links to Elizabeth line stations in east and south-east London, where many customers will use buses to get to and from stations. This includes the new route 304, which operates between Manor Park and Custom House stations.Selected buses connecting to the new Elizabeth line stations have been given a purple makeover to celebrate the Elizabeth line’s launch. A limited number of Santander Cycles and London Cable Car cabins have also been wrapped.
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Notes to editors
- Latest Elizabeth line images are available to download from here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/crossrailpress/The special service operating on Sunday 5 June for the Platinum Jubilee weekends will have trains running between Paddington and Abbey Wood from approximately 08:00 - 22:00
- As announced earlier this month, the Elizabeth line will not open on Sundays, except for The Jubilee weekend, in the short term to allow testing and software updates in preparation for these more intensive services, but there have been three Saturdays identified where the full weekend is needed to complete this work. By using Sundays and a handful of Saturdays, TfL has been able to bring forward the next phase of the Elizabeth line to this autumn, thereby enabling a much earlier near doubling of train service through the central area and direct journeys from the east and west through the tunnel. Free Wi-Fi will be available at some Elizabeth line stations from today, which TfL will collect depersonalised connection data from to help provide a far better understanding of how customers move through stations. It is not used to identify specific individuals or monitor browsing activity. For more information please visit tfl.gov.uk/wifi-data-collection
- More information about bus changes associated with the Elizabeth line is available at: https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/buses/bus-changes
The full list of participating locations turning purple tonight are:
- The lastminute.com London Eye
- Tower Bridge
- Leadenhall Building, also known as 122 Leadenhall Street or The Cheesegrater, in the City of London
- The Gherkin at 30 St Mary’s Axe
- 110 Bishopsgate, also known as the Salesforce Tower, in the City of London
- Tower 42 in City of London
- City Hall in east London
- Various spots across the Canary Wharf Group estate including the top of One Canada Square, light benches in Canada Square Park, Crossrail Place Roof Garden, Jubilee Park, the Camille Walala Tunnel at Adams Plaza Bridge and The Ivy in Canada Square Park
- Sea Containers London on the Southbank
- Department for Transport, Great Minster House
- Coutts Building and 230 Bishopsgate in central London
- Marble Arch
- Barbican Conservatory
- London Stadium at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford
- Battersea Power Station
- British Library
- Sky Garden
- ExCeL London in east London
- Guildhall in the City of London
- Trees along Oxford Street
- London cable car in east London
- Paddington Central, the Exchange Square (Broadgate campus) and the Fulcrum in Paddington
- Liverpool Street Network Rail station
- Greenwich Town Hall and Woolwich Equitable pub
- Palestra, TfL’s headquarters in Southwark
List of bridges involved in the coordinated light display:
- London Bridge
- Cannon Street Bridge
- Southwark Bridge
- Blackfriars Road Bridge
- Waterloo Bridge
- Westminster Bridge
- Lambeth Bridge
- Millennium Bridge (with white lighting)
- Golden Jubilee Bridges (with white lighting)
Timeline of the Elizabeth line:
- Since World War II, many proposals for an east-west railway under London were made and developed, culminating in the first full Crossrail scheme being submitted to Parliament in 1991. That scheme did not pass the committee stage, but the safeguarded route was used for the central section of a revised scheme recommended by the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) London East West Study in 2000.
- A joint venture between the Strategic Rail Authority and Transport for London (TfL) was set up in 2001 to promote the project. Outline design, consultation and business case development led to a scheme ready to submit to Parliament.
- The Crossrail Bill was submitted in February 2005. Scrutiny in Parliament reinstated Woolwich station which had been dropped during development. The Crossrail Act received Royal Assent in July 2008.
- A development agreement between TfL and the Department for Transport as joint sponsors established Crossrail Limited and the formal start of construction for Crossrail was marked at Canary Wharf on 15 May 2009.
- The main construction phase was launched in 2011. Tunnelling for the new rail tunnels began in May 2012 and was completed in May 2015. Eight tunnel boring machines (TBM) created the new tunnels under London with further works on stations, platform tunnels, shafts and portals continuing after TBM tunnelling finished.
- Installation of railway systems such as track, power and signalling began once the tunnels were ready in 2015. Systems were also fitted into stations and other structures, then tested and commissioned as an overall system.
- In 2015 TfL Rail services were introduced from Liverpool Street to Shenfield, operated by MTR Elizabeth Line. MTR is accountable for the provision of train drivers, station staff and control room operators and will continue to work alongside TfL colleagues to provide the service across the Elizabeth line.
- In 2016, Her Majesty The Queen visited Bond Street station and the railway was renamed the Elizabeth line.
- In 2017 the first of the new Elizabeth line trains was introduced between Liverpool Street and Shenfield.
- 2018 saw the Introduction of TfL Rail services between Paddington & Heathrow (taking over Heathrow Connect) and the introduction of the new Class 345 trains between Paddington and Hayes & Harlington. Then in 2019 TfL Rail services commenced between Paddington and Reading with new Elizabeth line trains.
- Extensive commissioning of the railway commenced in spring 2021 when Trial Running began, and Trial Operations commenced in November 2021.
- The Elizabeth line opened on 24 May 2022, with full services across the entire route set to be introduced by May 2023.