TfL’s Elizabeth line Committee has confirmed that it is now seeing an average of 200,000 journeys each day on the new section of the Elizabeth line between Abbey Wood and Paddington.
By the end of Monday 20th June 2022, the Elizabeth line had seen around 10.25 million passenger journeys across the whole route since it launched on 24th May 2022, and around five million of those trips are estimated to have involved the central section from Paddington to Abbey Wood.
They’re now working to open Bond Street station and connect the railway at Stratford to allow through running between Shenfield and Paddington station, and to connect the Abbey Wood line to Reading/Heathrow — both due to go live this autumn.
A software upgrade to the trains also took place over the 11th June weekend to restore some aspects of functionality that had been removed in a previous release of the train software. More promisingly, while they had expected reliability to dip slightly when the line opened to passengers, which is likely due to the ever-present reality that people don’t always behave quite as expected, in fact, reliability remained stable.
Ahead of the autumn upgrade to running 22 trains per hour in the core tunnels during the peak hours, they ran a full timetable trial with 20 trains per hour on Sunday 19th June, which was apparently a success.
The Elizabeth line Committee’s papers note though that they are still struggling with fixing a handover between signalling systems at Stratford, which is critical to the autumn upgrade. The Stratford issue can cause a train to stop unexpectedly, which is what it’s designed to do when a problem is detected, but it can hold up trains behind as the stalled train is restarted.
In addition, the auto-reverse at Paddington is still not working properly. The auto-reverse is needed to support the final upgrade of the line, lifting it from 22 trains per hour expected in the autumn to 24 trains per hour, now being suggested to arrive this December. The way it works is that it allows trains to drive while empty into the sidings just to the west of Paddington and reverse back, while the train driver is walking through the train to the other end to start driving the train once again.
That saves time in reversing trains, as classically a train has to come to a stop while the driver makes their way to the other end to drive the train back again. The Elizabeth line will, eventually, avoid that delay.
In related information, they’ve confirmed that passenger services between Reading and Paddington are still being operated by a combination of nine-car and seven-car trains. The shorter trains are a legacy of the early running under the TfL Rail brand, and they will all be lengthened to 9-cars by the autumn.