A number of problems on the railways this morning caused severe delays for commuters in west London and on the Elizabeth line.

A broken rail track near Hayes & Harlington station in west London caused problems on GWR and Elizabeth line services in the area, and then compounding the problem, a broken down train at Paddington affected the Elizabeth line out to Abbey Wood.

At Woolwich, if the Elizabeth line has a major problem, people have the option of swapping to the nearby DLR or mainline rail stations – but it can almost be a sign of the success of the Elizabeth line in attracting new passengers that the DLR now struggles to cope with the crowds.

Before the Elizabeth line opened, the DLR at Woolwich was busy but rarely overcrowded; however, this morning, the queues to get into the station at times stretched down the road.

(c) ianVisits

The crowding on the DLR was also affecting Southeastern and Thameslink trains at the neighbouring mainline station, with station staff warning that the mainline services were also much busier than usual due to the closure of the Elizabeth line at Abbey Wood station.

However, the surge in public transport use in the Woolwich area after the Elizabeth line opened means that the legacy transport networks can’t cope if the Elizabeth line is closed — which is a reminder that there is always pent-up demand for public transport.

As the saying goes – if you build it, they will come.

It’s not the best way of demonstrating how the Elizabeth line has attracted new public transport customers, but it can’t be denied that it has done so.


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  1. Mark A says:

    Thanks for this. Changes* to South Eastern Railway’s services in response to the Elizabeth Line’s opening can’t have helped. The DfT could have decided to further support and grow their own market but instead cut services and introduced breaks of journey at London Bridge, a station hardly optimised for changing trains.



  2. Nigel Harvey says:

    Mark – couldn’t agree more. If you look at the stats Southeastern is not recovering as fast as other London commuter railways from the pandemic.


    We all know this: give TfL, TfN and TfW sufficient funding; you’ll attract the crowd. The government knows this, but still don’t believe in public investment.

  4. Woolwich Resident says:

    It was another morning of peak time chaos on the Liz Line. Even the streets between the Liz Line at NR/DLR couldn’t cope: hundreds of hurried/stressed/late passengers crossing the main road without using the crossing point as buses came close to hitting pedestrians as they turned into Plumstead Road and the narrow cluttered pavement resulted in many just walking on on the road of Woolwich New Road.

    I’m no railway expert, but if there is a problem at Paddington, there has to be a way of isolating the problem instead of having the whole Abbey Wood branch stop? I did see that at 9am that the Liz Line trains from Stratford were continuing to run into Paddington, whereas the ones in Woolwich weren’t?

    • John says:

      Woolwich is now a massively crowded area with all transport packed even on good days. I’m sure they will keep building properties though..not a great place to commute

  5. Brad says:

    At least on the Shenfield branch they reverted to Liverpool St. High Level station running fairly quickly (seemed to take ages on the train but suspect it was less than half an hour).
    Not sure if the Woolwich branch has an obvious place to turnaround?

  6. Sean says:

    Would be fascinated to know if anyone legged it through the foot tunnel to King George V to try and avoid the lines!

  7. Geoff says:

    Southeastern’s reduced timetables perfectly illustrates how DaFT control and desire for cuts at any expense hamper growth. The waits now are ridiculous along the Greenwich and Woolwich Arsenal line. There was also cancellations on Thameslink and Southeastern which when factored amongst reduced services leaves no resilience.

  8. John says:

    Woolwich Elizabeth line Station is packed even on good days, a very congested area where are all these people coming from?

    • Andy T says:

      I often wonder that. Build a new road and pretty soon it’s full and surrounding roads still congested. Same with Crossrail and the existing lines.

      Since Crossrail should have been constructed decades ago that might provide some of the answer, as I’m sure people like me who used to drive but now find the train easier will have helped increase numbers

    • MikeP says:

      New builds.

      Commentators on SouthEast London have long noted that the figures DafT have been using for transport demand use woefully out-of-date dwelling and planning approval counts.

    • James Miller says:

      When the Overground opened in Dalston, the North London Line had three x three-car trains per hour. It’s now up to eight x five-car trains per hour. That is a capacity increase of 344 %.

      As you say, where do the passengers come from?

  9. Mark Pedant says:

    I think you mean ‘observations’. Observance means to adhere to a set of (especially religious) practices.

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