London opens its new metro line, the Elisabeth Line!

As the Queen prepares to celebrate herPlatinum Jubilee, Transport for London (TfL) has inaugurated the 12th line of its metropolitan network with the Elisabeth Line, in passenger service since May 24.

A project with a difficult genesis

The project of this Elisabeth Line dates from… More than 80 years ago! The metro line that now bears the name of the Queen in office was codenamed Crossrail. It was first proposed in 1941, abandoned for nearly half a century before being rejected by the British Parliament in 1991, then approved in 2005, with work starting in 2008 and expected to be completed in 2018.

It is thus with nearly 4 years of delay, and a budget increased by 20% compared to the initial estimate, that this new line opened.

An opened line… Or several?

When we talk about the Elizabeth Line, everyone thinks of the central underground section, the one that has just opened between Paddington and Canary Wharf, and its overhead extension to Abbey Wood with new lines. This is the part that was inaugurated last week.

However, theElizabeth Linealso has other branches that operate,one from Paddington to London Heathrow, formerly called Heathrow Connect and then TfL Rail until the opening of the central section, andthe other from Liverpool Street which still leaves from the surface station.

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Eventually, at the end of 2022/beginning of 2023, all these branches will be connected and all trains will operate on the central section in interconnection, bringing the number of trains between 24 and 30 per hour.

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Travel Experience

I took advantage of Ascension Thursday to go for a little ride on the Elizabeth Line in the early afternoon, so out of rush hour (yes, Ascension Day is not a holiday in England).

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From Paddington, even if the signs are clear, there is no possibility of connecting without leaving the sterile area from the District Line.

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It is therefore necessary to go back up to the Surface Station and then join the Elisabeth Line in this way.

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I spotted afterwards that there wasan underground connecting corridor with the Bakerloo Line, I will try next time to take it and then join the District Line that way.

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The stations are great, starting with Paddington. Theplatforms are 320 meters long, and are equipped with integral landing doors, with a signal screen at each door.

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The inter-cars of each train are completely open, leaving the total perspective.

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The trip is comfortable and you don’t feel the high speed of the train.

It would take me less than 15 minutes to reach Canary Wharf, in this air-conditioned, wide and pleasant train.

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Conclusion

A nice new addition to London’s already interesting public transport landscape. Even if it is commercially sold as a metro line, theElisabeth Line could very well be called an RER in Paris.

By the way, it is well operated byNational Rail,even though all the marketing is TfL!

Olivier Delestre-Levai
Olivier Delestre-Levai
Olivier has been into airline blogging since 2010. First a major contributor to the FlyerTalk forum, he created the FlyerPlan website in July 2012, and writes articles with a major echo among airline specialists. He now co-runs the TravelGuys blog with Bertrand, focusing on travel experience and loyalty programs.
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