After a long wait, Transport for London has confirmed that, subject to final safety approvals, the Elizabeth line will finally open on Tuesday 24 May 2022. The Elizabeth line, also known as Crossrail, will transform travel across London and the South East by dramatically improving transport links, cutting journey times, providing additional capacity, and transforming accessibility with spacious new stations and walk-through trains. The Elizabeth line will initially operate as three separate railways, with services from Reading, Heathrow and Shenfield connecting with the central tunnels from autumn this year.
In the coming weeks, Elizabeth line signage will continue to be uncovered across the network in preparation for the start of customer service. The updated Tube and Rail map will also be released later showing the new central section stations connected with the rest of the TfL network for the first time.
The new line is set to 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.
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.
All services between Reading and Heathrow to Paddington and Shenfield to Liverpool Street, currently operating as TfL Rail, will be 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.
Customers will be able to plan their journeys on the Elizabeth line using the TfL Go app and Journey Planner ahead of the railway opening. The new railway will connect stations such as Paddington to Canary Wharf in only 17 minutes, transforming how Londoners and visitors 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.
Andy Byford, Transport for London’s Commissioner, said: “I am delighted that we can now announce a date for the opening of the Elizabeth line in May. We are using these final few weeks to continue to build up reliability on the railway and get the Elizabeth line ready to welcome customers. The opening day is set to be a truly historic moment for the capital and the UK, and we look forward to showcasing a simply stunning addition to our network.”
The Elizabeth line is one of the most complex digital railways in the world, and includes pioneering technology and design.
Everything you need to know about the Elizabeth line
The Elizabeth line will have these opening hours in the central section between Paddington and Abbey Wood until autumn 2022:
- Services will run 06:30-23:00, Monday to Saturday
- No Sunday services. A special service will operate on Sunday 5 June 2022 for the Platinum Jubilee weekend running from 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 currently, aside from any planned weekend closures
Fares and ticketing
- While customers will initially need to touch out at Paddington and Liverpool Street to change for trains towards Reading, Heathrow or Shenfield, daily and weekly price capping will apply just as it does now
- Contactless pay as you go will be accepted throughout the Elizabeth line, as on TfL Rail
- Oyster pay as you go and valid Travelcards will also be accepted but, as on TfL Rail, not west of West Drayton
- Customers using Oyster to pay as you go who want to travel to or from stations beyond West Drayton will need to use contactless instead or buy a paper ticket
- TfL concessions will be accepted
- Customers with a Railcard discount set on their Oyster card will continue to benefit from 1/3 off off-peak pay as you go fares, just as they do now
Elizabeth line stations
Forty-one new and improved stations will be served by the Elizabeth line.
Elizabeth line trains
The fleet of 70 specially-designed Class 345 trains were built by Bombardier Transportation (now Alstom) in Derby.
All Elizabeth line stations will be step free from street to platform when the line opens, apart from Ilford. Network Rail expects to make that station step free in summer 2022.
Nine of the 10 new stations (when fully open) plus Heathrow will have step free access from street to trains. At Custom House station, wheelchair users should board the fifth carriage of Elizabeth line trains for level access.
All Elizabeth line stations will be staffed from the first to the last train, with a ‘turn up and go’ service offered to anyone needing assistance.
Work is ongoing at Bond Street Elizabeth line station, which means that it will not open with the other stations on 24 May. 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.
Changes will be 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. The changes will take effect from Saturday 14 and Saturday 21 May. This includes the new route 304, which will operate between Manor Park and Custom House stations from 21 May.
The Crossrail project was set a budget of £14.8bn in 2010 and was due to be completed in December 2018, but has been hit by a number of problems including construction delays and difficulties installing complex signalling systems.
Pictures: Transport for London