London’s New Elizabeth Line Launching Late 2018

31 January 2018

Mention the city of London and you probably think of black cabs, red double-decker buses and of course, the Tube.

Right now, the London Tube map – a design classic, famous around the world – is undergoing a transformation, with the addition of the new, purple, Elizabeth line.

Of course, the real transformation has been happening underground. Back in 2009 the Crossrail project, currently the largest infrastructure project in Europe, began at Canary Wharf.

Costing a tidy 14.8 billion pounds, this project is big.

The Elizabeth line project in numbers…

  • The route will run more than 100 kilometres from Reading and Heathrow in the west, through new twin-bore 21-kilometre tunnels below central London to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east.
  • Tunnel machines Elizabeth and Victoria each weigh 1,000 tonnes, are 150 metres long and more than 7 metres in diameter.
  • They are the last of eight Crossrail tunnel machines to have carved a route beneath London linking the West End, the City, Canary Wharf and southeast London.

How will the Elizabeth line affect travel around London?

  • The Elizabeth line, to be operated by Transport for London (TfL), will make travelling in the capital easier and quicker and will reduce crowding on London's transport network, operating with main line-size trains carrying more than 1,500 passengers in each train during peak periods. (Just FYI, right now roughly nine million people commute around London each day.)
  • The new, state-of-the-art trains will be 200 metres in length ­– that's almost twice as long as current London Underground trains.
  • Journey time from London Heathrow to the City of London (Liverpool Street) will fall from 55 to 34 minutes.
  • Crossrail estimates there’ll be a train every 2.5 minutes at peak time through central London.
  • Crossrail will boost the capital’s rail capacity by 10 per cent, bringing an additional 1.5 million people within 45 minutes’ commute of central London.
  • 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.
  • The first Elizabeth line services through central London will start in late 2018 – an estimated 200 million annual passengers will use Crossrail. 

Elizabeth line vs Heathrow Express

Even though TfL hasn’t yet released the timetable or fares for the Elizabeth line from Heathrow to central London, it’s worth asking the question: What will this mean for the Heathrow Express?

At this stage, it’s not easy to say. Since commencing service in 1998, the Heathrow Express has carried roughly 100 million passengers to and from Heathrow Airport to central London, so it certainly works for a vast number of travellers. The journey takes around 15 minutes, which is nearly a third of the time it takes in a car, and way shorter than the Piccadilly line option, which comes in at almost an hour. While it can be expensive (a single journey can cost up to 35 pounds), business travellers who can claim their trip will most likely choose the faster route.

That said, the Heathrow Express only takes you to Paddington, whereas the Elizabeth line can take you directly to the West End, City and Canary Wharf. If prices and timetables are on the money, chances are the Heathrow Express is in for some healthy competition.

Integrating new and existing infrastructure, the full Elizabeth line route opens in 2019.


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Erin Bennion

Based in Brisbane, Erin is a writer with a penchant for using fancy old French words wherever possible and an insatiable hankering for trawling through vintage markets in small Scandinavian towns (no really). One of her dreams is to take her family to see General Sherman in Sequoia National Park and give that old guy a group-hug. Don’t follow her, she could end up anywhere. Twitter @erinbennion