Since the Elizabeth line opened in May 2022, more than 60 million journeys have been made altogether, including 30 million journeys in the central section.

That comes from the latest Elizabeth line Committee report papers, and in the two months covered by the report (22nd August to 15th October), on average, more than 400,000 journeys were made across the whole of the line every single day.

The core section of the line had its busiest day so far on Thursday 29th September, when it recorded 290,000 journeys being made, although that record will have likely been broken since through running was introduced on 6th November.

Chart showing weekly passenger journeys in millions vs budget (c) TfL

The reason that passenger numbers are higher than the budget line in the chart above is that the central section opened five weeks earlier than had been assumed in the budget, which was naturally conservative in its assumptions.

Fares income was, therefore, £29 million above budget as a consequence.

For the year to date, the Elizabeth line’s direct operating costs were £9m lower than budget, and the net operating deficit for the Elizabeth line was £122m, £38m favourable to budget.

The Elizabeth line is on target to break even in the year 2023/24.

The next upgrade

An updated supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) communications software was commissioned at the end of October, which removed two remaining operational restrictions. At the same time, the major software update for the signalling (ELR300) underwent successful ‘over and back’ testing.

That signalling software upgrade will be commissioned over the Christmas period and will enable the Elizabeth line to increase peak hour services to 24 trains per hour in the core tunnels. Although installed over Christmas, it won’t go live until May 2023, to align with the National Rail timetable change as the service upgrade affects trains on the mainline network.

A further signalling upgrade is due as part of ELR400, in Easter 2023, at which time all station contracts are also expected to be complete.

As for the trains, the final three trains that were still using 7 carriages were taken out of service at the end of October to be converted to full length 9 carriage trains. The expectation is that by the middle of December, the whole line will be using the same 9-car fleet of trains.

They’re also working on a fix for the platform screen doors, where passengers with large luggage seem to be able to knock the door seals out of alignment. This is mainly affecting Paddington and Liverpool Street, which naturally have the most passengers with heavy luggage.

There are still some concerns about the reliability of the service on the shared surface lines to the east and west of London, generally caused by European Train Control System (ETCS) defects requiring the train driver to perform resets in service. Some trains have had hardware replacements to see if that helps, and Alstom will be installing a new configuration from May 2023 to deliver a permanent fix to the problem.

There are still problems to iron out, but this is to be expected with any new major infrastructure project, where long-standing plans and rehearsals hit real world behaviour and it takes time to gain the necessary levels of experience. In engineering terminology, it’s the bathtub curve, where a new product is launched, where reliability improves rapidly after launch as glitches are quickly identified and fixed, spends years generally being reliable, and then starts to lose reliability as it wears out over the decades.

The overall Elizabeth line Public Performance Measure (PPM) during Period 7 (18th September to 15th October) was at 94.1%, compared to a national railway average of 88%.

Crossrail’s engineering lessons

The Crossrail legacy programme, which is a rich mine of information about the challenges faced by engineers in building the railway will publish its final reports in April 2023.

The Learning Legacy programme started in mid-2015, and was modelled on the London 2012 Olympics Learning Legacy – to collate and share the learnings from Crossrail for the benefit of the major projects industry.

The final reports are to be published as a journal, in partnership with the Association for Project Management and will cover the period from when the delays were announced to how they completed the railway and opened it to passengers.

There will also be a one-day conference event being arranged for 5th April 2023 to wrap up the Crossrail project.


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  1. Keith Barber says:

    I have found the Elizabeth line to be so convenient since the linking up of the 3 sections into 2 overlapping services – it has cut the journey time from Stratford to ealing Broadway by a third and even if we did not have any through running shenfield to Heathrow from may 2023, it still offers a brilliant service, but it can still have its off days

  2. ChrisC says:

    Any info available yet on how many of those 30m trips in the central section are new trips and how many are diversions from the central line?

    I’ve used Lizzie a couple of times in the past few months and have been impressed by everything – apart from one thing and that is the size / number of the lifts between the Lizzie and Thameslink platforms at Farrindgon. There are only two lifts and they are very small – 3 people with a case each and they are full!

  3. Michael says:

    I prefer to use the old tube lines (circle) to Paddington
    I used crossrail and was very nervous of other passengers
    rushing down the escalator and pushing other people out of the way, I fear to say I dread people falling down those
    very high escalators and there being a pile up of people at the bottom. staff should warn these people of the danger
    they cause to fellow passengers.

  4. J says:

    Would be keen to see customer happiness scores by station when they are published. Living near Maryland the Elizabeth line has been a huge disappointment. Constant cancellations, delays and diversions at Liverpool Street in the mornings. Overcrowding too. Have reverted to Central Leyton line.

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