London Travel Guide

You’ll Be Blown Away by This City’s New Transport System

PHOTO: Chrispictures/Shutterstock

Elizabeth has an official ETA.

Crossrail, currently Europe’s largest infrastructure project, will eventually transport passengers across London (from east to west) via 100 kilometers (about 60 miles) of underground railway. The project has been officially dubbed the Elizabeth Line and is slated to be open between October 2020 and March 2021.

Tell Me More About Elizabeth!

It’s the first new underground line in the city since 1999 and, so far, workers have poured 130 million hours into it. Work on Elizabeth started in 2009—new tunnels were dug and space was made on city blocks for the new stations.

The line is projected to carry more than 200 million passengers per year using 70 new trains, from the town of Reading to the neighborhood of Abbey Wood. The line will be accessible at 41 one stations, including 10 new ones. Riders on the Elizabeth line will also be able to travel from Heathrow Airport’s Terminals 2/3 to Tottenham Court Road and vice versa. The line can be accessed using London’s Oyster Card system, which is already in place, smartphones, and credit/debit cards. Like other Tube trains, the new line will run 24 hours a day.

“The Elizabeth Line on its own adds about 10% to London’s rail capacity,” Howard Smith, director of operations at Transport for London said. Smith said the large trains are about 50% longer than any other Underground train in the city.

And if it’s not obvious, the train’s name is meant to honor the Queen, who was, according to The Guardian, the first reigning monarch to travel on the London underground.

Why’s It Taking So Long?

Elizabeth’s delay, which is now at two years, is due to the complexity of the building process, including production that has gone into the addition of new trains being added, signaling systems, and 31 miles of communications cables. As such, the pushback has sparked turmoil among residents and politicians alike (especially from London’s Mayor, Sadiq Khan, who publicly stated his frustration after documents were released in December 2018 that indicated the job had been messily managed). While original costs were estimated to be $18.7 billion, the price of the project has ballooned to $22.3 billion.

How It’s Affected Londoners

Currently, however, city residents are seeing an effect from the project on their daily lives—housing prices near the new stations have increased, for example—and London’s visual aesthetic has been reportedly somewhat compromised.  According to CNN, one Londoner who purchased a house in 2017, thinking the new line would make her commute and daily life easier, has had to deal with costs and stress due to the delay; she says she’s especially had trouble finding a childcare center whose hours are flexible enough to allow her to make it to work and back on time.

A Friendly Reminder on How to Get Around

If you’re visiting or planning to visit London in the near future, however, there are still plenty of ways to make your way through the city. In addition to the Tube, London, a walker’s city, has several options, including double-decker bus rides, which can be accessed via Oyster passes that can be acquired at Tube stations and convenience stores. Alternatively, buy a Travelcard pass (from £13 per day in the central Zones 1 and 2), which offers unlimited use of the Tube, buses, and commuter rail.