It’s May 24 2022. A date to tell your grandchildren about. The overcast London day when a seismic shift occurred in the UK capital. The day that the Elizabeth Line finally opened. Our moon landing. Crossrail Day. After 13 years in construction, and many, many more in planning, and an eventual budget of nearly £19 billion, the transport line that stretches laterally across the city has finally become a usable, swipeabale reality.
After its official ribbon-cutting last week by Her Majesty the Queen, in whose honour this sleek bit of twenty-first-century infrastructure has been named, the Elizabeth Line saw its first public services start today, at 6.30am. Hundreds of fans apparently queued overnight to be on one of the first trains (you’ve got to be pretty hardcore to be a transport buff). Not all of the line is open yet, just the section from Paddington to Abbey Wood near Woolwich in south-east London, but the whole thing will be unveiled in stages, until it’s complete in May 2023.
For now, here are the bald facts about the Lizzie Line:
- 41 stations
- 12 trains an hour (rising in the future to 24 at peak times)
- There is no service on Sundays for now
- Terminuses: Abbey Wood (south-east), Shenfield (east), Reading (west), Heathrow Central (west)
- All stations (bar one) are fully step-free accessible from platform to street
- 26 miles of the line are underground
- It is not considered a tube line as it operates on rail tracks. Hence the capitalised ‘Line’ in its name
- There’s a map of how it all hooks up here
- Fares are the same as national rail, including the zone 1-6 price cap of £14.10 for a 24-hour period
It looked for a bit like it might never happen, but if there is going to be one lasting legacy of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, then this service that links up all sorts of bits of London more cohesively is probably it. A proud day. Just don’t mention gentrification.