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Four things we just learned about Crossrail

Written by
James Manning

Christmas is getting nearer, and that’s pretty exciting, but it’s nothing compared to the thrill of a brand new tube line. We’ve just had our attention drawn to a new TfL document that pulls together the answers to a few big questions about London’s new toy: Crossrail. (Breathe easy, republicans: you’ve still got two years before the new railway is officially called the Elizabeth line.) Here’s what we’ve found out.

1. Everything’s going to plan so far

Big infrastructure projects have a tendency to hit delays – just look at the night tube. But according to TfL’s programmes and investment committee, ‘Crossrail is on course to open, as planned, in stages between May 2017 and December 2019. Trains are in production and the detailed timetable is being developed.’ Assuming no future hiccups, you’ll still be able to ride the new Lizzy line’s central section from December 2018.

2. It won’t run all night

We were hoping that the new line would instantly join the night tube network, linking up even more party commuters to the West End and Liverpool Street. But the new document states that won’t happen – not at first, anyway. ‘Services will operate broadly the same hours of operation as Underground services,’ it says, ‘with first trains arriving at Tottenham Court Road station around 05.30 and the last trains departing at 00.30.’ The good news is that ‘[c]onsideration is being given to future night services’ – but they’d need to work around the timetable that Network Rail follows to maintain the surface sections of the Crossrail route. So cross your fingers.

3. You won’t be able to take it to Heathrow (at first, anyway)

The new line goes all the way to Heathrow, saving air passengers the Piccadilly line slog, but even after the central section opens in December 2018 you’ll have to change at Paddington to get there. This is because the western section of the line won’t be linked in to the main network until a full year later, as the final phase of the project.

4. The trains will have a ‘calm and uncluttered ambience’ – and wifi

Barber & Osgerby, the Shoreditch design agency responsible for the 2012 Olympic torch, have helped TfL with the carriage interiors for the new Crossrail trains. They’ll eventually be up to 240 metres long, you’ll be able to walk right through them, and they’ll have ‘large windows and high quality detailing using materials such as stainless steel’ plus air conditioning, screens showing updates on other TfL services and ‘a mix of longitudinal and bay seating’ (like the old District line trains). Most importantly, ‘[i]t is intended that Crossrail stations and trains will provide both 4G and wifi coverage’: no more waiting between stations for the signal to come back. TfL, you’re spoiling us.

Want more essential Crossrail knowledge? Here are the things you only know if you’re a Crossrail engineer.

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