Ahead of an Elizabeth line Committee meeting next week, Transport for London (TfL) says that the Elizabeth line is now beating post-pandemic passenger number forecasts. In its first full year of operation, the Elizabeth line carried just over 150 million passenger journeys, and although passenger demand is below pre-pandemic forecasts it’s above a range of post-pandemic projections.

Pre-Pandemic and Post-Pandemic Elizabeth line Passenger Projections and First Year Actual Passenger Journeys (millions) (c) TfL

The line is averaging around 3.5 million journeys each week, with the busiest week on the railway peaking at over 4.1 million journeys. Assuming nothing else, then they expect this year to carry around 170 million passenger journeys and could reach 200 million a year if post-pandemic recovery continues.

Looking at where passengers have switched from the tube to the Elizabeth line, they’ve seen a 40% drop in demand for the Central line at Ealing Broadway and a five percent decline in passengers on the Bakerloo line between Paddington and Oxford Circus.

Based on initial oyster/contactless payment data for specific journeys, they’ve seen a six-fold increase in traffic between Paddington and Tottenham Court Road, and four-fold increase in passenger journeys between Stratford and Paddington. Both were boosted by the much shorter journey times compared to the London Underground.

Although a lot of traffic comes from people switching from other services to the Elizabeth line, TfL believes that around 30 percent of traffic is new, and most of those are trips that wouldn’t have been taken if the Elizabeth line didn’t exist. Overall, their analysis suggests that the Elizabeth line is attracting an estimated 140,000 additional journeys in London each weekday than otherwise would have been the case.

There’s also been an increase in bus usage along the routes that feed people to a bus stop next to an Elizabeth line station in the suburbs, although that’s been partially offset by a decline in bus use around Elizabeth line stations within Zone 1.

Some early analysis suggests that the Elizabeth line has had a bigger impact on how people travel than previous transport changes, such as the opening of the Jubilee line extension. They suspect that this is partly due to the faster journeys offered, but also the improved train comfort levels. That’s significant if arguing the difference between expanding a tube line or a mainline railway. If a mainline grade railway upgrade delivers a bigger improvement for pound of investment, it’s easier to argue for it.

While the benefits of the Elizabeth line seem obvious, it’s helpful to have that proven by objective studies that put practical numbers on how transport and the economy have changed because of the new railway. TfL has now appointed Arup to deliver the first Elizabeth line post-opening evaluation study. The initial findings report is expected to be published in spring 2024 and a comprehensive report is expected in spring 2025.

A second post-opening evaluation study will focus on the wider socio-economic impacts of the Elizabeth line and will also update the findings on transport impacts from the first post-opening study. These wider economic, social and environmental effects will take longer to emerge and this second study will be commissioned in early 2025.

Away from how the public have changed their transport use, TfL is carrying out a review of the Crossrail funding/financing model with an aim to write an objective and factual account of funding and financing of the project.

These reports are important not just to learn lessons from the past, but to show concrete justifications for future public transport upgrades in London, and the rest of the UK.


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  1. Stephen Lawrence, Cambridge says:

    Although this is a very welcome railway investment it’s yet another project based in the South of England and we still need to see the Focus change to the northern areas. we could do with another tunnel under Manchester for instance or more infrastructure between Manchester and Leeds and this London centric stuff has to be challenged otherwise we’re going to be stuck where we are. the Oxford to Cambridge railway is another example – great project, but it isn’t in the North

    • Thomas Day says:

      It’s simply return on investment Stephen. London has such a large economy that for what you invest you are pretty much guaranteed it will pay for itself and will bring the largest gain to the economy.

      Of course these things are chicken and egg and if the government did invest that money in Leeds or Manchester that would grow their respective economies. The trouble is when you’ve got a limited pot of money to spend and you want to get the best return the money will always go to London.

    • ianVisits says:

      I agree – transport upgrades for everyone is a good idea.

      As London picked up 70% of the cost of the Elizabeth line, can you suggest a proposed transport upgrade in Manchester where the local taxpayers are doing the same?

    • Big Babs says:

      A welcome return for the ‘boo, everything’s in London, put it in the north instead. And by ‘the north’ I mean not a vast area of the country, but Manchester’ argument, I’ve missed it since I stopped reading the Guardian.

    • Ben says:

      More than 60% of the companies supplying Crossrail were outside London and the South East (“Elizabeth line:
      evidencing the value”). Whilst maybe not as good as building a whole new railway in the North, it has had some impact outside London.

  2. Geoffrey Riba-Thompson says:

    It’s “both/and” for transport investment. The population of Greater London and its hinterland far outstrips any other region. By all means increase investment in the North but don’t remove it from the South.

    • Ben Stevenson says:

      Exactly right. I live in the North, but don’t think removing investment from the South East will help anyone. I want better trains for my local area, but can also be pleased if a project is successful elsewhere. There is probably a good case for getting on with Crossrail 2 now AND hopefully more investment all around the UK (including north England).

  3. Keith says:

    Hopefully some of this can be used as an argument for speeding up fully implementing HS2 and East-West Rail. Particularly if it’s proven that 30% of Elizabeth line traffic is new users, which may suggest future investments in London and around the rest of the UK may help take traffic off roads.

  4. Fi says:

    Any idea what the source is for this data? I’m struggling to find where it is from

  5. Andy says:

    The elisabeth line should be shown on the map as connecting Bond Street eastern exit to Oxford circus. It is only a 200m walk and by doing this you by far beat the TFL journey planner if going from Elisbeth line to Victoria line.

    • Julian says:

      This probably wasn’t done as Oxford Circus has struggled with capacity – although some former Central Line passengers will now be using the Elizabeth Line to Bond Street instead. Pre-pandemic and pre-Elizabeth Line, Oxford Circus regularly had its entrances closed to incoming passengers in the evening peak due to overcrowding on the platforms. This was the reason a subway was not constructed to link Oxford Circus Underground with Bond Street Crossrail.

  6. Obi says:

    You know it’s a success when no is talking about the price tag anymore.

    Would like to see the Bakerloo extension, DLR to Thamesmead & the older train stock be updated. The central line in particular is a horrible experience, modern trains would be a major QOL improvement.

  7. Caroline MacDonald-Haig says:

    I live 3 minutes walk from Acton Main Line Elizabeth Line station. It is brilliant BUT
    Two requests:
    The line coming to and from Heathrow is getting more and more crowded. Would it be possible to have the Acton Main Line instated at all times, as is Ealing?
    Also more seats please on the station at Paddington

  8. Liz Brereton says:

    I live in Croydon and can only access it by taking a thameslink train to Farringdon. This is fine providing trains from Croydon to Farringdon start early enough to connect with Elizabeth line.

    I was thinking of using it next time I go to Heathrow. The only issue with using it for Heathrow is that the trains from Croydon connecting to Elizabeth line don’t start early enough to get to Heathrow for early check in time.

    What is the point of providing services which don’t start early enough to be able to connect to train lines and tubes like Elizabeth line going to airports and Eurostar. First trains should start early enough to be able to get a train or tube connecting to Elizabeth line and Piccadilly line that allows for 2-3 check in times for airports and Eurostar.

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