This morning, May 24 2022, the first section of the new Elizabeth Line in London opened to the public – and we went along to see if the highly-anticipated Crossrail has lived up to the hype.
It’s estimated that the Crossrail has cost a whopping £19bm which far exceeds the initial budget of £14.8bn; for context, that’s more than was spent on hosting the London 2012 Olympics.
Construction began over a decade ago in 2009 and the Elizabeth line was originally meant to open in 2018, but multiple delays as well as the Covid-19 pandemic means that it hasn’t allowed passengers on board until today.
And, it hasn’t all opened at once as only the central section from Paddington Station to Abbey Wood is running – but this should still make life easier for commuters travelling from East to West or vice versa,
The remaining sections of the line, which will connect Reading and Heathrow Airport to Shenfield are due to be added to the Crossrail in Autumn this year.
This morning, commuters and trainspotters alike were excited to ride the shiny new line on its inaugural day of operations.
However, the launch day was interrupted at Paddington Station when people were evacuated due to a fire alert just hours after the tube opened. Just after 9am crowds were spotted outside the station, but the service quickly resumed.
We spoke to a number of people on the high-tech new Elizabeth Line this morning to find out their thoughts on the grand opening.
Pamela Kalman, 75, commented: “I’ve got to be the first to do everything so I came to ride the Elizabeth Line today.
“I climbed the Shard on the first day it opened so I decided to come here too.”
Her travel companion, Stella Hewins, also 75, commented on the journey to the platform at Liverpool Street which is step-free.
She said: “There’s miles of walking to get here. There are no seats, only places you can lean on and it’s a long way to go if you’re older.”
Adam Williams, 27, was most keen on the air conditioning on the Crossrail.
He said: “I’m so excited it’s finally open. I can finally stop using the Central Line which gets so hot in Summer.”
So, what is it really like on the new Elizabeth Line? We found out…
New Platforms and Stations
The first thing to mention is the shiny new platforms and stations – nine of the Elizabeth Line stations are brand new including Paddington and Tottenham Court Road.
Most of the central section features wide and exceedingly clean platforms all bedecked in the bright purple of the new line.
And there are some fun futuristic features including state-of-the-art incline lifts which run diagonally alongside the escalators at Liverpool Street and Farringdom.
The sideways lift shafts will help the Crossrail be the most accessible line on the network with almost all stations being step free.
TFL claims that the lifts are 50% more efficient using only half the energy of a standard lift to run.
They’re also cheaper to install as the lift space doesn’t need to be excavated.
On top of the lifts, Elizabeth Line platforms feature barriers with automatic doors much like those on the Jubilee which help to make people feel safer.
And, the real time displays showing when the next train will arrive are clear and bright on screens above the doors alongside a moving tube map of the upcoming route.
On the Tube
The trains themselves are spacious and comfortable with various places to sit and stand.
There are accordion type partitions which can be used to separate parts of the trains during emergencies.
Rows of seats sit against the walls in some places with far more room between them than on the Northern or Bakerloo lines and there are also groups of four seats which face each other.
For those who choose to stand there’s plenty of space as well as above head grab handles to keep you steady.
Priority seats are as usual dotted around the trains near the doors and there are four dedicated wheelchair spaces in the fifth carriage from the front which are separate from the multi-use spaces for buggies and cycles.
The trains are far quieter than the other lines on the Underground network though it does still make noise – and some sections are a bit louder than others.
However, thankfully there was no screech of metal or ear piercing roar on our journey.
As well as being quieter than other lines the Elizabeth Line is cool and breezy thanks to air-conditioning which will be gratefully received by commuters in summer time.
And, the Crossrail even has Wi-Fi on its trains so you can scroll on your commute.
The new tube line will run every five minutes between 6.30am and 23.00pm Monday to Saturday.
Trains will not run on Sundays, except for on Sunday June 5 when trains will run 8am to 10pm to celebrate the Platinum Jubilee.
The Elizabeth Line will eventually become a seven day service with 24 hour trains at busy times.
Over on Twitter, people shared their opinions on the newly opened Elizabeth Line.
Michael Vrontamitis said: “Welcome to the Elizabeth Line – looks great, smooth journey, but no phone reception.”
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While Karpreet Khara added: “The tube announcer guy is so enthusiastic about Elizabeth Line. Love it!”
And, Olly Hatch noted: “Love the Elizabeth Line signage TFL.”
But, Lisa Highnett said: “All due respect to the Elizabeth Line , but could we sort out the railways in the rest of the country please? Public transport for all!”
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