Queen Elizabeth

Work on London’s new Crossrail project, named the Elizabeth Line, commenced in 2009. Although construction is running behind its scheduled completion date of 2018, once fully operational, the line will serve around 200 million passengers every year.

Facts and figures

The new Elizabeth Line will consist of 73 miles of track, 13 of which will travel underground. Stretching from Reading in Berkshire to Shenfield in Essex, it will pass through several major London stations such as Paddington, Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road, Farringdon and Liverpool Street. The line will branch off in two directions, to Heathrow Airport to the west, and Abbey Wood towards the east.

41 stops feature on the new line, 10 of which are new. Another 30 existing lines have been given a makeover.

Although the line is named in honour of the Queen, it was originally going to be called the Churchill Line. Adopting the style of other DLR visuals, it will display a purple and white colour for the underground section, and orange and white for the over ground part.


Measuring 200 metres in length and with nine carriages, the trains are expected to be twice as long as standard underground trains. They’ll come with free WiFi, air-con and ample space for buggies and wheelchairs. Energy efficiency has been given a priority, as trains will use almost a third less energy.


The idea behind the new line is to ease congestion on other well-used lines. In particular, the Elizabeth Line serves five stops also used by the Central Line, so it should make this line less crowded, especially during peak times. Pressure will also be taken off the busy District Line.

Passengers travelling from central London to Heathrow Airport using the Elizabeth Line will also see 20 minutes slashed off the journey time, while also easing pressure on the Jubilee link to the airport.

Capacity on London’s transport rail systems will be boosted by 10% when the line is fully functional, with half a million passengers likely to use the line each day. 24 trains will run hourly in each direction, carrying up to 1,500 passengers per train.

Transport for London (TfL) claims the new line could generate over £200m annually, boosting the economy by £42 billion.

Costs and timescales

The new Crossrail project is likely to cost around £17.6 billion, with much of the government’s £2 billion bailout cash already being eaten into. Delays are costing £30 million per week, with TfL claiming it’s missing out on earning £170 million from passenger fares.

Although the Elizabeth Line has missed its scheduled completion date of December 2018, experts hope it should be ready by the end of this year. However, this date could get pushed back if further delays persist.

Work still needs to be carried out on the infrastructure of stations and tunnel interiors, as well as reliability and safety testing on the signalling systems. During the construction of the line, there has also been significant disruption in central London.

Building a new railway has always been a time-consuming and challenging project, even when the first line in England was built in 1830, between Liverpool and Manchester. Work was done by hand back then to build the 35 miles of track, using shovels, picks and wheelbarrows.

Thankfully, advances in technology now means that much of today’s railway construction work is done by sophisticated computers and machinery.

Despite the setbacks, part of the Elizabeth Line running from Liverpool Street to Shenfield has been operational since June 2017. Once fully completed, passengers can expect to pay the same price for zones 1-6 as other Tube prices, although it will cost more to travel to Heathrow.

Further development is expected on London’s transport system in the future, with Crossrail 2 on target for 2030, as well as extensions to the Northern and Bakerloo Lines. New trains fitted with air-con systems should also be up and running in the next few years.

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