Happy first birthday to London’s Elizabeth Line
London is celebrating the first anniversary of public service on the Elizabeth Line, the highly anticipated addition to the capital’s transport network. Since its launch, the Elizabeth Line has transformed the way people travel across the city, providing faster, more efficient connections between destinations like Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east, and Reading and Heathrow in the west. All via a brand new central London core, dug through a vast tunnel complex – at vast expense.
The Elizabeth Line, named for the late monarch and also known as Crossrail, represents one of the largest infrastructure projects in Europe. This monumental endeavour took over a decade to complete, involving the construction of 42 kilometres of new tunnels and the integration of several existing railway lines. The result is a state-of-the-art railway system, easing congestion on much of the London network, and opening up new travel opportunities. From its inaugural service on 24 May, 2022, the Elizabeth Line has enjoyed an overwhelming response, and now, according to some sources, accounts for an astonishing one in seven of all rail journeys in the UK. The line serves several key London stations such as Paddington, Liverpool Street, and Canary Wharf, and is highly integrated into Underground and national rail services.
24 trains per hour
According to Transport for London, the body responsible for passenger operations in the capital, more than 150 million journeys have been taken across the Elizabeth Line in its first year. Since opening, around 600,000 journeys are made on weekdays. According to economic analysis conducted by TfL, the project has created more than 55,000 jobs across the UK and continues to support new housing, jobs and economic growth around London. “The Elizabeth line is the most significant addition to our transport network in decades”, said Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London. “[It] has proven to be much more than just a new railway – providing a crucial economic boost to the whole country and playing a vital role in drawing people back on to London’s public transport.”
It has been a drawn out process, but the line is also now operating at its full planned capacity and connectivity. Peak time frequencies are now running at an impressive 24 trains per hour on the core section, between Paddington and Whitechapel, with 16 trains per hour running off-peak. That’s among the most frequent services anywhere on Earth. There are several other capacity enhancements, including the integration of some services previously handled by other operators. The removal of any significant pauses for trains outside Paddington station has also brought reduced journey times for customers travelling from the west into central London – including international passengers from Heathrow.
The Elizabeth Line has also played a pivotal role in easing congestion on London’s other transport routes. At a stroke the line added ten percent to the entire capacity of the city. That though only tells part of the story. By offering alternative routes and reducing pressure on existing lines, the Elizabeth Line has helped alleviate overcrowding during peak hours, enhancing the overall reliability of the city’s transport system. It has also encouraged journeys which were not previously practical, and boosted economic development along its route. With improved connectivity and accessibility, previously underdeveloped or overlooked neighbourhoods have experienced a surge in interest from businesses and investors.
To mark the first anniversary of public service on the Elizabeth Line, celebrations took place across the capital. Transport for London organised special events at several stations along the line, including live music performances, art installations, and interactive exhibitions showcasing the engineering achievements and historical significance of the project. “The Elizabeth line has cemented its place as an integral part of the transport network of London and the South East”, said Andy Lord, London’s Transport Commissioner . “It has given so many parts of London, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Essex a real boost with new housing, workspaces, retail and economic growth. The line is a game changer.”