It’s here

Thursday 26th May 2022

Four things struck me when riding the new Elizabeth Line alongside thousands of excited passengers on Tuesday’s grand opening day.

First the sheer scale of the cavernous station structures particularly underground.

Liverpool Street

I remember the exciting new Victoria line in the late 1960s bringing noteworthy improvements to the London Underground not seen for over three decades; the late 1990s saw the Jubilee line extension bring major developments with vast spaces, deep level escalators and modern lifts as well as safety features such as Platform Edge Doors (PED) and now after almost another three decades comes Crossrail-Elizabeth Line taking modernity to new depths (literally) and widths as well as innovations such as incline lifts and departure displays above every PED.

Canary Wharf
Incline lift (here) at Farringdon/Barbican (there’s also one at Liverpool Street/Moorgate)

There are too many examples to include here and social media is awash with photographs and video clips of first day impressions so I’ve just confined myself to a few notables I spotted as I rode up and down the line.

Compare and contrast Farringdon platform pictured above for the Elizabeth Line, and below, for Thameslink – London’s other cross city National Rail line using infrastructure that’s over 150 years old.

The second thing that struck me was how quick the journey is. Paddington to Liverpool Street in 11 minutes; Farringdon to Canary Wharf in nine minutes. And that includes quite a bit of dwell time at each station too.

There’s no doubt this is already changing travel patterns as more passengers give the new options a try out. I took a ride on the Central line on Tuesday afternoon and it was still busy between Tottenham Court Road and Liverpool Street …

…. but of course it serves more stations (Holborn, Chancery Lane, St Paul’s and Bank) than the Elizabeth Line (Farringdon).

Canary Wharf has yellow lit escalators

The third thing that struck me especially as this week I’m travelling around the country with an All Line Rover is for the first time rail passengers can access central London in the form of Tottenham Court Road (and later this year, Bond Street) with an exclusively National Rail only ticket.

Liverpool Street with ‘normal’ commuters already taking it in their stride

Previously passengers have been restricted to Thameslink over in the east but now it’s possible to do many ‘through London’ journeys all on National Rail and the interchange between Thameslink and the Elizabeth Line at Farringdon adds to the flexibility.

Liverpool Street and more commuters as though it’s always been there

I tried out using my All Line Rover at London Underground’s gate lines at Whitechapel, Liverpool Street and Tottenham Court Road (Geoff Marshall featured the latter in his first day YouTube video) and although it didn’t work the barriers (it doesn’t do so at any station anyway) the staff just waved me through without taking too much notice. Where it was queried “oh, I haven’t seen one of those before” a quick explanation of what it was and they were only too happy to let me through. A refreshing change of positivity.

It does make me think that with the blurring of gate lines between London Underground and National Rail (already including London Overground) at more stations, TfL might as well let All Line Rovers be valid on the whole network.

Liverpool Street London Underground gate line with a blurred All Line Rover

Or, at least, add the dagger symbol enabling cross London journeys between main line stations on the Underground as all other National Rail tickets requiring a journey crossing London allow.

I don’t want to be a party pooper but my final observation is a bit of a negative in that with all the hullabaloo of the Elizabeth Line opening and the £20 billion spent it’s so disappointing to see the so called “integrated” buses run by the same TfL organisation treated as though they just don’t matter.

Renowned blogger Diamond Geezer outlined a sorry yet unsurprising report on Sunday of the appalling lack of information available for passengers regarding Saturday’s extensive bus changes in Newham to improve interchange with the Elizabeth Line which I also recently blogged about.

Custom House bus station alongside the station

You’d think these shortcomings would have been corrected for Tuesday’s grand opening but when I did a couple of spot checks during the morning these showed the Custom House terminus for new bus route 304 was still devoid of timetables or anything to let passengers know where the route goes ….

…. and over at Abbey Wood the sorry state of the out of date spider maps in the bus shelters by the shiny revamped station remained as appalling as they’ve been for years.

And I doubt the westbound bus stop alongside the Elizabeth Line tracks at Custom House station would pass any accessibility rules, yet alone guidelines.

Custom House station westbound bus stop – no room to pass by, let alone get a wheelchair on and off the bus

It’s ironic the sparkly new Elizabeth Line is characterised by vast spaces for passengers to access the platforms and escalators under ground as shown in earlier photos but at ground level, just outside the stations, where thousands of passengers will interchange with buses, it’s another forgotten story.

As is the totem pole immediately opposite Abbey Wood station’s entrance.

I’m guessing as it mentions ‘Buses’ it wasn’t deemed worthy of updating with an Elizabeth Line logo.

It just reinforces my view since TfL merged their management structure into a combined ‘cross modal’ ‘matrix’ model, buses just don’t get a look in any more nor are they taken seriously as far as providing information and promotion to passengers.

There’s a no expense spared leaflet about the Elizabeth Line with details of how to interchange at Paddington and Liverpool Street with the outer sections of the Line ….

…. and a brand new ‘Tube’ map was out on Tuesday updated with the Elizabeth Line (which isn’t a ‘Tube’) and which is now such a mess it’s pretty much useless unless you have a magnifying glass with you. Yet buses aren’t worthy of any maps at all – not even online.

Although I did spot updated spider maps on display at Woolwich station …

…. and despite those shelters not being touched (presumably because they’re a few yards outside the station boundary), an updated map for Abbey Wood was on display right outside the station. So at least that’s something.

But this disappointment doesn’t take away from the sheer brilliance of London’s latest new railway.


Sadly I may not be around to see the next one launch in another three decades or so.

So I’ll make the most of this one. As the staff were definitely doing on Tuesday. Which was good to see.

Roger French

Blogging timetable: 06:00 TThSSu

19 thoughts on “It’s here

Add yours

  1. That old bit of Farringdon (and the trains serving it) have toilets which is better than Crossrail and at most of the central London stations there is a complete lack of seating. Which is ironic as Network Rail seems to have been busy adding seats at lots of central London stations.


  2. Passenger numbers did not seem that high considering it was the first day

    TfL predicted 67M a year on that section of the line. It is not clear on how many days or the hours it calculated it on. Currently the line i not opening o Sundays and closes at 11pm

    It shows a 9.4% fall in passenger usage and an 11.2% fall in South Eastern traffic

    There is no date on the chart but the Abby Wood section shows 2018 so it is out of date and would not reflect the impact of Covid

    Link here :1!&&p=a747a552241c73072801cf205662186000b5b40cdc461d6c5b37623b28a1fd8aJmltdHM9MTY1MzU0ODEwNCZpZ3VpZD0wMDZmYTQ0Ni0wMTNlLTQ5MmQtYWIxZi1kNmE3YWM5NWMwNjQmaW5zaWQ9NTI1Mg&ptn=3&fclid=c534f68f-dcc0-11ec-a6d1-451bfb259c9b&u=a1aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cubG9uZG9uLmdvdi51ay9hYm91dC11cy9sb25kb25hc3NlbWJseS9tZWV0aW5ncy9kb2N1bWVudHMvczcyMjcxL0FwcGVuZGl4JTIwNWElMjAtJTIwdG8lMjBUZkwlMjBMZXR0ZXIucGRm&ntb=1


  3. I visited the Elizabeth Line on Wednesday, and was pleasantly surprised by the number of “normal” passengers travelling, especially cross-river (Woolwich to Canary Wharf). My journey to Abbey Wood took 28 minutes from Lodon Bridge, and the same again back to Paddington!!

    The structures (if that’s the right word) underground are simply superb, although you can see echoes of the Jubilee Line extension (cavernous stations and passages) everywhere. It’s quite surreal outside the east end of Canary Wharf station; you can hear the trains underground (it’s the ventilation shafts!).

    There were plenty of staff around to guide the unfamiliar . . . as Roger found, all smiling. The trains, of course, are familiar, but still very clean inside and out . . . with cleaners at both ends of the line doing their stuff. I have noticed that, in London at least, cleaners doing a litter pick all day does seem to have reduced the detrietus left on board . . . maybe people do drop less litter if there is none dropped already??

    Passengers interchanging should beware, though . . . these stations are DEEP!! If you are at the wrong end of the train at Farringdon, it’s a good 7 minutes-plus to get to the Thameslink or Circle platforms.

    Yes . . . three years late and over-budget . . . but the Jubilee Line extension was late as well . . . after a few months, that’ll be forgotten until Crossrail2 is started!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I, too, was one of the many there on Tuesday. Having already travelled on the 345s to Reading and Shenfield (courtesy of my Freedom Pass) and found the ride somewhat hard, I was impressed by how smooth and stable the journey from Paddington to Abbey Wood was. Combined with the speed of the journey it is a very pleasant way to get across London.

    I was presented with a glossy A5 (folding out to A3) brochure by an enthusiastic staff member at Abbey Wood. It is something for the east end of the line as it has details about Abbey Wood, Woolwich and Custom House stations, including mention of the 472 bus being extended to Abbey Wood and the 300, 304 and 474 buses at Custom House although it then follows this with “To find out more about bus routes, search TfL buses” .

    The new Tube map that I picked up is even more incomprehensible than its predecessors and is definitely not fit for purpose. There is some very muddled thinking by those responsible and a lack of understanding about what it is trying to achieve. Perhaps they could offer a prize for those able to find the new section of the Elizabeth Line on it!!


    1. Although visitors to London ask “Can I have a Tube map?” what most really need is a Zones 1 and 2 extract of London’s Rail and Tube map. Since that was redrawn, it shows the central area far more clearly than the now cluttered Tube map. That would also have made the addition of Thameslink to the Tube map an irrelevance.


  5. Very many thanks for this:
    1 – I fully agree that it’s great that it is (at last) here and starting to be up and running.
    2 – I also agree that it is very big – a shade too big perhaps? Is there really a need for ‘cavernous’ underground passages which do little for the passenger besides making them walk a bit more? Did the designers (maybe in search of an award for the ‘most cavernous underground walk-way in the world’) actually take into account the extra difficulties for people with reduced mobility (which includes people with heavy luggage, small children, or just a leg injury)? – and the missed connections?
    3 – I absolutely agree with your comments about the disgracefully different way that the local bus services – which should be an integrated of many journeys – have been ignored in respect of passenger information, bus stop facilities etc.. Come on TfL! – these local services are used by (at least) hundreds of people, making thousands of journeys – they are your customers, and voters; and do you want more people to use public transport?


    1. TfL have given the passenger numbers for the Abbey Wood section as 65,000 from opening until 10am

      I have seen no figures as to the impact on the South East line to London Bridge

      I would image the Heathrow Express line will see a big drop in passengers as the Elizabeth line will be a lot more use to them then going to Paddington

      There is also a lot of inconsistences in fares when traveling from outside of London. The lack of point to point tickets is another issue. Having to buy two tickets is hardly progress


  6. Like London Overground (and Merseyrail)TFL Rail is promoted separately from the main rail network so a lot of people won’t realise that you can use All Line Rail Rover’s on them.A bit of a gray area with Tyne and Wear Metro between Newcastle and South Hylton but as I understand it normal tickets are valid but Rover’s aren’t but as nobody checks tickets it doesn’t make much difference and even if they did the aren’t going to know what the Rover is .


    1. I would argue that if you know about the all line rover and are gonna take enough trains for that ticket to be worth it for you, you probably do know that the Elizabeth line is a national rail line – I can’t say I’ve ever heard anyone outside of the rail enthusiast community talk about it


  7. it i interesting that money is thrown at rail but not at bus services in spite of twice as many people using buses and I expect it is even higher in many places have very limited rail services

    The £3B that was promised for buses seems to have dropped to just below £1B


  8. One, the Elizabeth line is wonderful.
    Two, it could have been even better if the Plumstead portal had been built to emerge between the existing Up and Down lines (which would obviously need to have been realigned) so that there could be convenient cross platform interchange in the direction of travel at Abbey Wood station, with the trains reversing in turnback sidings beyond the platforms as they do at Paddington. Instead, everyone changing to/from Southeastern and Thameslink trains for stations further east have to use the staircases or lifts to do so.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Lost in this is the fact that TfL’s current temporary funding expires in one month

    Will the government give TfL more money when the temporay funding for the resy of England ceases at the begining of October


  10. With your all line Rail Rover you can take the opportunity to ride on one of the three refurbished Avanti West Coast Pendolinos now back in service. Unit identities are shown on Real Time Trains. I took one to Blackpool today which was soggy just like Abbey Wood on Tuesday at 05:30am where I arrived to find a queue of 40. I joined at about 250 after getting coffee from garage that opened at 6am. Very impressed with crowd control and way we were let in, only to be confronted by superstar Geoff who you encountered later. Sir…..You have an excess fare to pay!

    Great to see so many happy people taking pictures using Smartphones on public transport and not objecting to others with the growing distain I sometimes encounter.


  11. You might already be aware, but the error code (13) that came up when trying your All Line Rover at Tottenham Court Road during your appearance on Geoff’s video is “Under value – Additional fare due” which is probable glitch with the coding on the ticket not being recognised yet on the LU gates.


  12. CONFUSING ? A vertical Maze at Moorgate

    Take Lift A from the ticket stalls at Moorgate’s entrance down to the Eastbound & Westbound platforms for Circle, Metropolitan and Hammersmith & City lines.

    In order to access the Northern line, passengers should take Lift B down to a Mid Level where they change for Lift D, go down to a Link Passage, then finally up Lift C to access the Tube line.

    For the Elizabeth line station in Liverpool Street from Moorgate take Lift B to the Mid Level, then down Lift D.


  13. There is a few things wrong with this Elizabeth line which is it no quicker then by going by underground. 2 if you got a freedom pass or disable pass it don’t say how far you can use it on Elizabeth line or were it stops and you pay the rest. Also if you got disable or freedom pass it don’t give you Zones what stations are in. Total waist of money


    1. The London Councils information map about Freedom Passes is here:

      The Elizabeth line map with zones included is here:

      As for your comments about the journey times, they will get better once the full line is open, but it is still much faster along the core than by using the tube.


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