- During the visit, Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Earl of Wessex, met with staff, including Elizabeth line apprentices, drivers, and station staff
- The Elizabeth line will open to customers on Tuesday 24 May, radically cutting journey times, increasing capacity and encouraging people back onto public transport
- The opening of the railway coincides with this year’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations, marking The Queen’s 70 years on the throne
Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Earl of Wessex, today (Tuesday 17 May), visited Paddington Elizabeth line station to mark the completion of the transformational new railway ahead of its opening to passengers on Tuesday 24 May.
During the Royal visit, Her Majesty officially unveiled a plaque to celebrate the completion of the line named in Her honour. The plaque will be permanently mounted at Paddington station, celebrating The Queen’s connection with the railway for generations to come.
Accompanied by HRH The Earl of Wessex, Her Majesty also met with staff who have been key to the Crossrail project, as well as Elizabeth line staff who will be running the railway - including apprentices, drivers, and station staff.
Her Majesty and His Royal Highness were joined on the visit by the Prime Minister Boris Johnson, The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, Transport for London's Commissioner Andy Byford, the Transport Secretary the Right Hon. Grant Shapps, and the Crossrail Chief Executive Mark Wild.
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 is from London’s farepayers, around 40 per cent from London’s businesses – combined with 30 per cent from Government.
The Elizabeth line is already supporting regeneration and new homes, jobs, and economic growth across the length of the route. The new railway is expected to support thousands of new homes and jobs and will boost the UK economy by an estimated £42bn. It will transform rail transport in London and the South East by increasing central London rail capacity by 10 per cent and relieving congestion on many existing rail and Tube lines. It will also transform the accessibility of the transport network by radically increasing the number of step-free stations and providing spacious trains.
In the run up to opening, station staff are making final preparations at the nine new central section stations. 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.
To mark the name change from Crossrail to the Elizabeth line, The Queen came to see the railway during its construction in 2016. Today’s visit builds upon a long-held association between the Royal family and London's Transport network. Her Majesty became the first reigning monarch to travel on the London Underground in 1969, when she opened the Victoria line.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “I’m delighted that Her Majesty The Queen and HRH Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex have officially unveiled the new Elizabeth line station at Paddington today. The opening of the Elizabeth line, with nearly 70 per cent of the total funding paid for by London, is a landmark moment for our capital and our whole country, particularly in this special Platinum Jubilee year.
“The Elizabeth line is the most significant addition to our transport network in decades and this new line will revolutionise travel across the capital and the south east and bring economic benefits to the whole country. There is now just one week to go until our world-class new railway will be open to passengers, and I can’t wait for everyone to experience it.”
Andy Byford, Transport for London's Commissioner, said: “Her Majesty The Queen has a long association with London’s transport network, and I am delighted that Her Majesty was able to visit our magnificent Paddington Elizabeth line station today. In a landmark year for Her Majesty, during the Platinum Jubilee, everyone at TfL is committed to ensuring this new railway will serve as a fitting tribute and will – by creating faster journeys, new jobs, and economic growth – become a vital part of London’s recovery.
“What could be better for encouraging back on to public transport, and what better symbol could there be of London’s renaissance from the pandemic.”
Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, said: “Boasting the oldest underground network in the world, London has long been viewed as a pioneer in world leading transport systems and the Elizabeth Line is no exception.
“Just one week from now, Londoners will have access to faster and cheaper travel on board these state-of-the-art trains and it’s an honour to have played a role in this through the Government’s £9bn investment.”
Following its public opening next week, the Elizabeth line will initially operate as three separate railways as always planned. Customers travelling between Reading or Heathrow into London will initially need to change at Paddington for services into the central section of the route, and customers from Shenfield into London will initially need to change at Liverpool Street. Bond Street station will open later this year, when the western and eastern sections of the railway are connected to the central section to enable through-travel.
The Elizabeth line will operate 12 trains per hour between Paddington and Abbey Wood from Monday to Saturday 06:30 to 23:00. Work will continue in engineering hours and on Sundays to allow a series of testing and software updates in preparation for more intensive services from the autumn.
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. There will be up to 24 trains per hour between Paddington and Whitechapel during the peak when the railway is fully open.
At Paddington, the line contributes to the burgeoning transformation of the area and complements the station building created by Isambard Kingdom Brunel that opened in 1854. London Underground arrived at the station in 1863, with the opening of the original section between Paddington and Farringdon by the Metropolitan Railway. This legacy now continues with the addition of the new cavernous and architecturally stunning Elizabeth line station.
During construction of the railway, eight giant tunnel boring machines burrowed below the streets of London to create 42km of new rail tunnels which cross the River Thames three times, and more than 3 million tonnes of excavated spoil contributed to the creation of Jubilee Marsh as part of the Wallasea Island Wild Coast project.
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Notes to editors
- The first new Elizabeth line services for customers will depart Paddington and Abbey Wood Elizabeth line stations at around 06:30 on Tuesday 24 May
- A special service will operate on Sunday 5 June for the Platinum Jubilee weekend. Services will run from approximately 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 today aside from any planned weekend closures
- In order to provide a seamless passenger experience, contactless payments will be accepted across the Elizabeth line. While customers will need to touch out at Paddington and Liverpool Street to change to Elizabeth line services towards Reading/Heathrow and Shenfield, fare capping will be in place
- At Abbey Wood station some customers may want to use a manual boarding ramp to board Elizabeth line services. At Custom House station, wheelchair users should board the fifth carriage of Elizabeth line trains for level access
A timeline of key Royal Family and TfL engagements:
- The Queen became the first reigning monarch to travel on the London Underground in 1969, when Her Majesty opened the Victoria line service
- In 1977, the Jubilee line was officially opened by HRH The Prince of Wales and was named to mark 25 years since Her Majesty's accession to the throne. In the same year, Her Majesty opened Heathrow Central station (Terminals 1 2 3) on the Piccadilly line
- In the aftermath of the 7 July terrorist attack on the London Underground, Her Majesty unveiled a plaque at Aldgate station in 2010 remembering the lives of the 52 victims who had died
- In 2013, the celebrations of London Underground's 150th anniversary saw The Prince of Wales and Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall take a trip on the Underground, and Her Majesty The Queen, His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh and Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge visit Baker Street station
- In 2016, Her Majesty visited Bond Street Elizabeth line station. During this visit, the line’s purple colour theme was announced, and it was confirmed that the line would be named Elizabeth line to honour Her Majesty.