Elizabeth Line to finally open this month


The Elizabeth Line - formally known as Crossrail - looks finally set to open this month after years of delay and billions in budget overruns.

Transport for London (TfL) confirmed that subject to final safety approvals, the Elizabeth line will open on Tuesday 24 May 2022 running services across London and the south east with trains every five minutes between Paddington and Abbey Wood, Monday to Saturday.

The railway has seen its fair share of trouble with fluctuating budgets, delays and even arguments between management and City Hall. 

The funding framework for Crossrail was put in place in October 2007 with the costs to be met by Government, the Mayor of London and London businesses. A funding envelope of £15.9bn was originally agreed.

Following the Comprehensive Spending Review in October 2010, a revised funding envelope of £14.8bn was set but then, in 2018, the funding envelope was increased to £17.6bn.

Additional funding has since been required due to troubled delivery and in December 2020, a further £825m was provided to fund the programme, before another £390m was provided by Network Rail from July 2019 to July 2020. The total funding envelope is now £18.8bn with the Public Accounts Committee predicting last year it would arrive at a £18.9bn price tag.

Services were originally expected to start running in 2017.

Initially, the line will operate as three separate railways, with services from Reading, Heathrow and Shenfield connecting with the central London Underground tunnels from autumn this year, when frequencies will also be increased to 22 trains per hour in the peak between Paddington and Whitechapel.

Customers travelling between Reading or Heathrow into London will need to change at Paddington for services into the central section of the route, and customers from Shenfield into London will need to change at Liverpool Street.

All services between Reading and Heathrow to Paddington and Shenfield to Liverpool Street, currently operating as TfL Rail, will be rebranded to the Elizabeth line and an updated Tube and rail map will also be released shortly.

Customers will be able to plan their journeys on the Elizabeth line using the TfL Go app and Journey Planner ahead of the railway opening.

As well as supporting regional service, the Elizabeth Line will help improve travel inside the central London area, on journeys such as Paddington to Canary Wharf, which used to take more than 30 minutes but now takes only 17 minutes.

Andy Byford, Transport for London's Commissioner, said: 'We are using these final few weeks to continue to build up reliability on the railway and get the Elizabeth line ready to welcome customers. The opening day is set to be a truly historic moment for the capital and the UK, and we look forward to showcasing a simply stunning addition to our network.'

Work is ongoing at Bond Street Elizabeth line station, which means that it will not open with the other stations on 24 May. The team at Bond Street are working hard to open the station to customers later this year.

Changes will be made to 14 bus routes to improve links to Elizabeth line stations in east and south-east London, where many customers will use buses to get to and from stations. The changes will take effect from Saturday 14 and Saturday 21 May. This includes the new route 304, which will operate between Manor Park and Custom House stations from 21 May.

Step-free access is in place from street to train across all Elizabeth line stations between Paddington and Woolwich.

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