Note down the landmark date of May 24, 2022. This is the day that, after years and years and years of anticipation, that the hallowed Elizabeth line began to run through central London.
That means that from today, you could be hopping on one of these swanky new purple Crossrail trains for your morning commute and making it into the centre of London faster than you ever have before.
It may not be the first time we’ve had an official opening date, with the project initially slated to open in October 2018. Nearly four years on, it seems we’re actually getting the real deal this time, with the first train departing this morning at 6:30am.
The unveiling has been hailed as a success, acting as a precursor to the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations, which commence on June 2. Last week, the Queen even made a surprise appearance at Paddington station to officially open the line.
The £20 billion pound project arrives with the aim of boosting the post-pandemic return to work and adding a ten per cent capacity to the network. Opening on a Tuesday comes in line with many offices current post-pandemic work patterns of “Tuesday to Thursday” office hours.
In the first guise of the line, ten stations have been kitted out in brand new style, including Tottenham Court Road and Paddington. Bond Street, however, is not ready and trains will run through the station without stopping.
When the Elizabeth Line opens, passengers needing to access central London will need to change at Liverpool Street or Paddington, but fare caps will mean double charges will not occur. TfL hopes to connect the western and eastern sections to the central tunnels by autumn, by which time 22 trains per hour will run at peaks times between Paddington and Whitechapel. By May 2023, that number is planned to increase to 24.
TfL Rail services that are already operating on the western and eastern parts are also set to be rebranded as the Elizabeth line.
Mayor Sadiq Khan said: “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.