The Elizabeth line opened on Tuesday 24 May 2022 with services between Paddington and Abbey Wood. TfL Rail services from Reading and Heathrow to Paddington mainline, and Shenfield to Liverpool Street mainline were also rebranded to the Elizabeth line on this day.
The railway has received an incredible reception, with over one million passengers using the central section in the first five days of operation, travelling through the heart of London from Paddington to Abbey Wood.
The Elizabeth line has started to transform travel across London and the South East through dramatically improving transport links, cutting journey times, providing additional capacity, and transforming accessibility with spacious new stations and walk-through trains.
The new line is a historic, once-in-a-generation addition to London’s transport network that will be crucial to London’s recovery from the pandemic, helping avoid a car-led recovery by providing new journey options and supporting regeneration across the capital.
THE NEW RAILWAY
The Elizabeth line is a complex railway encompassing new stations, new infrastructure, new track and new trains. It is important that the Elizabeth line opens in phases to ensure it is safe, reliable, performs as expected and is maintainable.
The Elizabeth line began on 24 May with a 12 trains per hour service (a train every five minutes) in each direction between Paddington and Abbey Wood from 06:30 to 23:00 Monday to Saturday. There will be no Sunday services from Paddington to Abbey Wood until later in the year. Services between Liverpool Street mainline and Shenfield, and Paddington mainline to Heathrow and Reading will continue to operate on Sundays as they do now aside from any planned closures.
On Sundays and during engineering hours, work continues to allow a series of testing and software updates in preparation for moving to a higher intensity of services later this year. Full weekend closures are also required for the testing and software updates - 11/12 June, 30/31 July and 29/30 October. Using Sundays and some Saturdays will help us complete the next phase of the Elizabeth line this Autumn rather than later in the programme, enabling a much earlier near doubling of train service through the central section.
Bond Street is now the only central station site with a substantial number of workers still on-site. The station continues to make good progress and the team at Bond Street are working hard to open the station to customers later this year.
INTEGRATION OF SERVICES FROM EAST AND WEST
Services from Reading, Heathrow and Shenfield are anticipated to connect with the central tunnels in autumn, at which point frequencies will also be increased to up to 22 trains per hour in the peak and 16 trains per hour off-peak between Paddington and Whitechapel.
The full Elizabeth line timetable with up to 24 trains per hour at peak between Paddington and Whitechapel and 20 trains per hour off-peak is planned for May 2023.
Preparation for the next stage of the programme (connecting Reading, Heathrow and Shenfield to the central section) is progressing well. When this next stage launches, we will also be able to begin Sunday services in the central section of the railway.
An important part of providing the full Elizabeth line service is the transition between the central section (Paddington to Abbey Wood) and the surface section at Stratford. This transition needs to be highly reliable and work is underway with our signalling supplier to build this reliability to the required level.
The start date for full Elizabeth line services is linked to improved reliability growth, and successful commissioning of further upgrades to signalling and rolling stock software planned for later in 2022.
You can read more about how we are opening the railway here.
NEW CENTRAL LONDON STATIONS
New Elizabeth line stations are being delivered as part of the Crossrail programme at Paddington, Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road, Farringdon, Liverpool Street, Whitechapel, Canary Wharf, Custom House and Woolwich. Abbey Wood is the tenth station in the central section and has been extensively redeveloped by Network Rail.
Nine of the ten Elizabeth line stations have now been transferred to the responsibility of TfL: Custom House, Farringdon, Tottenham Court Road, Woolwich, Liverpool Street, Paddington, Woolwich, Abbey Wood and Canary Wharf.
Bond Street Elizabeth line station is the only central section station with workers still on-site. The team are working hard to complete construction works, finish testing and commissioning and hand over the station to Transport for London as soon as possible. You can watch a short video update from Dave Lock, Crossrail's Bond Street Project Manager here. There are oversite developments above both ticket halls, at Hanover Square the oversite building is complete and tenanted, at Davies Street construction continues and the developer has topped out the building.
UPGRADED STATIONS IN THE EAST AND WEST
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 are being carried out by Network Rail in preparation for the Elizabeth line services. These works are nearing completion.
Earlier station improvements included platform lengthening, improved customer information screens, signage, new ticket machines and CCTV. These works were necessary earlier in the project to enable the nine-carriage Class 345 trains to run on the east and west sections.
Additional works at stations by Network Rail and TfL have included the installation of lifts and new footbridges, which when complete will enable step-free access across the entire route.
A number of larger station improvements were delivered throughout 2021, with new spacious and brightly lit ticket halls opening at Ealing Broadway, Southall, Hayes & Harlington and a new extension to the ticket hall at West Drayton. These have been complemented by toilet, waiting room and canopy improvements on the platform level.
TfL has completed improvement works at Burnham station on the west, separate from the Network Rail works, which include a new ticket hall with accessible ticket window, new ticket machines, automatic ticket gates and customer information screens. Outside the station is improved cycle parking.
Enhanced station improvements at Ilford and Romford are progressing well. At Ilford, the station will benefit from a new spacious glass and steel ticket hall with new lifts. Works are progressing well and the station is expected to open in the summer. At Romford station new lifts are now open, adding additional step-free provision in addition to the ramped entrances to platforms. An improved ticket hall and a new entrance will open shortly.