More travels across Crossrail

Sunday 30th January 2022

Flashback to those innocent days in summer 2018 when all was ready for the December opening.

Following yesterday’s blog when I explored how Crossrail is set to change the travel landscape between Abbey Wood and Liverpool Street, it’s now time to continue westwards through the new central core towards Paddington from where the line continues on existing tracks currently run as TfL Rail (formerly GWR) to Reading and Heathrow Airport.

As I described yesterday the Crossrail station at Liverpool Street has been built underground between and parallel to Finsbury Circus and London Wall and will give convenient access to the main line terminus at the eastern end of the platform and to Moorgate station at the western end.

This will provide interchange not only with National Rail lines into Liverpool Street (Greater Anglia, Stansted Express and Overground) and Moorgate (Great Northern lines from Welwyn Garden City and Hertford North) but also the Central line, Hammersmith & City and Circle lines, Metropolitan line and Northern line.

What an amazing array of travel possibilities will open up. Passengers from a whole host of destinations in north and east London and beyond will be able to reach Canary Wharf, the West End, Heathrow Airport and Reading (and vice versa) easily and smoothly at this vast new interchange station.

Moorgate’a original station and the newly extended development.

It’s interesting that whereas at Kings Cross St Pancras, Underground lines have shared the two main line termini’s individual names they serve, over at Liverpool Street passengers arriving at Moorgate will have direct access to a station called Liverpool Street, which is a kind of a first.

The diagrams above show the scale of platform lengths beneath ground while at ground level you get an idea of the scale of things by taking a walk from Liverpool Street …

… through Finsbury Circus …

… to Moorgate.

Plenty of over development at the new Crossrail station at the Liverpool Street that’s in Moorgate.

In the newly expanded Moorgate end of Crossrail’s Liverpool Street station (aka as Moorgate station) I spotted a bank of new ticket machines which I assumed would retail tickets for the National Rail network.

They have a nice clear screen ….

… so I gave it a try by putting my local station, Hassocks, in as the destination and up came the options ….

…. except the cheapest Thameslink only tickets weren’t listed. Which is a bit concerning and needs sorting.

Access down to the Crossrail platforms is down a bank of escalators from this new ticket hall and the moveable barriers are all ready to be concertinaed up on the network’s opening day.

Crossrail’s next station after Liverpool Street is Farringdon and it’s another station which stretches between two Underground stations – Barbican and Farringdon. That journey at the moment is made by Hammersmith & City, Circle or Metropolitan line trains.

Above ground there’s access to the new Crossrail Farringdon just a short walk from the existing (rather dismal) Barbican entrance.

The eastern ticket hall was looking ready and waiting through the grilled barrier…

… including a member of staff practising sitting in a booth, presumably watching no-one using the escalators and no-one having problems at the ticket barriers.

The new platforms extend through to the existing Farringdon station on the Hammersmith & City, Circle and Metropolitan lines and Thameslink. There’s a shared ticket office between Thameslink and Crossrail which has been expanded and open for some time including new escalators down to Thameslink’s northbound platform (pictured below where the sign with an arrow pointing left is out of date as access is now down these new escalators)…..

….. from where there are further escalators down to the new Crossrail platforms.

Farringdon was one of the stations I visited on the open days Crossrail held in summer 2018 in those heady days when the line was “on budget and on target” to open that December.

Farringdon will offer convenient connections with Thameslink trains linking east and west with north and south. I reckon it will be transformational (to use a current buzz word) for thousands of passengers in the wider south east. For example journeys from the Brighton Main Line to the Great Western Line might be better changing at Farringdon for connections to Paddington. An eight-and-a-half minute journey time from Farringdon to Paddington could be a game changer. But it might highlight just how slow Thameslink trains are through their north-south core, compared to Crossrail’s speedy progress east-west.

The next station on from Farringdon is Tottenham Court Road which will be just three-and-a-half minutes away on Crossrail but on my pre-opening travels the quickest option on journey planners was a twelve minute walk to Chancery Lane Underground station and then the Central Line for the three minute journey through Holborn to Tottenham Court Road.

The Crossrail station has been integrated with the Central and Northern lines ticket office with access to platforms for all three lines through the newly enlarged ticket hall.

There’s also another Crossrail ticket hall further west along Oxford Street at the top of Dean Street where an over development is still being construcetd above the new entrance.

It looks to me as though this won’t be ready and finished for the opening in a few weeks time.

And talking of not being ready for the opening, that’s also the story at the next station along at Bond Street which has officially been “decoupled”from the opening timeline (to use the official jargon).

When you see the state of construction this week, you see why, and as I stood looking I was simply incredulous the team running Crossrail back in 2018 didn’t admit until the end of August that year things wouldn’t be ready.

They obviously never paid a site visit to Bond Street.

At least the platforms look ready for action, if not the ticket office.

As highlighted at the beginning of yesterday’s blog, it’s the Central line which will gain most relief between Tottenham Court Road and Bond Street with the opening of Crossrail especially with passengers travelling from further afield destined for the shops in Oxford Street changing on to Crossrail at other stations further out and not needing to switch to the Central line.

There’s currently no direct link between Bond Street and Paddington, Crossrail’s next station. The best option is the Jubilee line to Baker Street where there’s a pretty much cross platform interchange with the Bakerloo line (or take a bus on route 7). Crossrail will provide a very convenient direct alternative to both options and with a journey time of just three minutes it’ll be the quickest by far.

Crossrail’s Paddington station has been constructed under Eastbourne Terrace which ironically runs alongside the western side of the main line station and provides convenient access through the station’s original entrance to GWR trains on platform 1 and beyond.

The initial pattern of service when Crossrail opens will see trains run in three separate sections: Abbey Wood to Paddington along the new tracks I’ve been exploring in these two blogs while the Shenfield to Liverpool Street and Paddington to Reading/Heathrow Airport services continue initially unchanged. Ultimately it will all be joined up and many more direct journey opportunities will be available.

To conclude this pre-opening review I took a look at one such journey which I’m sure will become very popular – a direct train connecting Southall and Ilford.

All the stations on these two long standing lines have either been given, or are still receiving, a substantial makeover. At both Southall and Ilford this involves extensive expansion and rebuilding of ticket offices as well as the introduction of lifts.

Southall’s new ticket office has been constructed north of the original with a modern ticket hall …

…. together with extensive corridors and new staircases and lifts to access the refurbished and extended platforms.

You can see the original station building to the left in the photograph below.

It took me well over an hour to complete the journey between Southall and Ilford. The existing TfL Rail service from Southall to Paddington took 18 minutes, I then walked the five minute trek to the Hammersmith & City/Circle lines platform and just missed a train so had to wait five minutes for the next one. That took ten minutes and I was still at Paddington. In the new scheme of things Crossrail will have whisked me directly on to Liverpool Street on the same train from Southall in just 11 minutes.

The Circle line train took 18 minutes to get me to Liverpool Street then a two minute walk to platforms 16/17 which frustratingly are at the far end of the concourse from the Underground exit and I just missed a TfL train to Ilford meaning an eight minute wait before I was on my way. Incidentally these two platforms were lengthened over the Easter weekend last year and can now accommodate nine coach Class 345 Crossrail trains. These will be used for peak time extra journeys with most journeys using the tunnels and continuing to Paddington and beyond.

I set off on a Shenfield bound train and arrived in Ilford 17 minutes later having taken 73 minutes since leaving Southall. Once Crossrail trains run through it’ll take 46 minutes – 27 minutes (37%) quicker. And that 38 minute faff crossing London reduced to 11 minutes.

Ilford station has hit some issues with its rebuild which is still in the midst of its Crossrail transformation with the main station entrance on Cranbrook Road completely closed while it’s rebuilt from scratch, but as you can see it’s coming on well.

There’s a new (I assume temporary) side entrance in Ilford Hill which accesses the middle of platform 1 and passengers have to walk to a footbridge at either end to reach platforms 3 and 4 used by Crossrail.

There are other side entrances at the western end of the platforms to Ilford Hill (south of the station) which was new and opened last year …

…. and an old entrance in York Road (north).

Lifts are being installed and once the work is finished it will be as good as Southall and all the other stations on both the Shenfield and Reading lines which are having the refurb makeover treatment.

It’s all part of making Crossrail fit for purpose and at £18.7 billion, I’d hope so too.

It’s well over three years late and well over budget (the original budget was £14.8 billion) but there’s no doubt it will be transformational as I hope I’ve demonstrated.

Roger French

Blogging timetable: 06:00 TThSSu.

Next blog: Tuesday 1st February 2022: Cambridgeshire’s diverted busway latest.

11 thoughts on “More travels across Crossrail

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  1. Given how unreliable the Circle line is, I wonder if the Thameslink/Crossrail connection will also become people’s preferred route for journeys such as Kings Cross – Paddington or Kings Cross – Liverpool Street.
    The Thameslink core is certainly slow, but at least you don’t tend to sit on the platform for 10 minutes or longer waiting for trains that are supposed to be every three minutes or so!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. TfL Rail in the west initially directly took over Heathrow Connect, including it’s class 360/2 units as well as GWR services to Hayes. The Reading line was added just over a year after that takeover.

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  3. What a name Boris gave it the Elizabeth Line named after the person who signed the bill to privatized the railways and went on to make John Major a Sir I think that I’ll refer to it as Cross Rail.

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  4. Although it does have a temporary feel about it, the Ilford station entrance on Ilford Hill is going to be a permanent feature:(https://www.crossrail.co.uk/news/articles/additional-entrance-at-ilford-station).
    Bearing in mind that the station already has a secondary entrance to the north (York Road), Ilford will be in the almost unique situation for a station of this size in having three separate entrances (all of which will need to be staffed).

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  5. Your blogs certainly show the scale of the ambition both in new and existing infrastructure. It’s certainly not surprising it’s somewhat expensive!

    Rightly or wrongly it’s a huge contrast to the original ‘budget’ opening of Thameslink which reused existing infrastructure as much as possible. This meant places like Kings Cross weren’t ever really fit for purpose as opened. There’s probably a debate to be had about which approach offers better value for money & whether a more cost conscious way of thinking could mean transport benefits spread more thinly over a wider area. I wonder what a Crossrail opened by BR in the early 2000’s would have looked like?

    To my mind though this is the standard of infrastructure we should be aspiring to not just in London but elsewhere in the country.

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  6. The multi-entrance arrangement for stations with the expected usage of Crossrail is surely a good thing. Blackfriars now has entrances N and S of the Thames. Charing Cross could have a southern entrance (convenient for Embankment underground station), Come to that, most central tube stations could have an entrance at each end of the platforms. And why only in London? – many other stations would benefit from this arrangement, even small ones where at present passengers have to make an unnecessary walk: at Bat and Ball (Sevenoaks) passengers from houses on the north side wanting a London train have to go over the road bridge then back over the foot-bridge, when they could have direct access at the cost of a gate and a ramp – as there is at Otford just up the line.

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    1. A good point and in many cases the reverse has happened with entrances being closed off to reduce the staffing/installation cost of gating. Unlike Tfl the NR network has no mechanism for measuring the value of customers time navigating stations.

      At the behest of the Dft gates have now reached some quite small stations where the cost compared to revenue gained must be very questionable, even more so when you factor in extra inconvenience.

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  7. Could we have even a fraction of the money being spent on schemes such as Crossrail going to public transport elsewhere? Please?

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  8. Just out of interest I thoroughly recommend a gem of a documentary from 1969 entitled “How They Dug The Victoria Line”. It’s available on BBC iPlayer in the A-Z section of From the Archives. A stark contrast to today’s methods of Crossrail construction! No sign of any protective equipment and clothing whatsoever existed in those days with complete disregard to health and safety. It frightened me half to death to watch it.

    Liked by 1 person

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