The central section of the Elizabeth line that opened to the public last Tuesday has already clocked up over a million passenger journeys. And not all of them by train geeks and people coming to see this huge new thing that’s been built deep under London.

Including the whole line, which stretches from Reading and Heathrow in the west to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east, more than two million journeys have been made now that the TfL Rail services have also joined the Elizabeth line brand.

Tottenham Court Road station in the opening day’s evening rush hour

Howard Smith, TfL’s Director of the Elizabeth line, said: “It has been fantastic to see the Elizabeth line receive such a great reception. Customers have been flocking to the railway in the hundreds of thousands each day since opening to marvel at our beautiful new stations but also to experience drastically shorter journey times. It is already having a transformative impact on local businesses and opening up access to new areas of London.”

On the opening day, a stall was set up in Paddington station selling Elizabeth line collectables from the London Transport Museum, and TfL says that some ranges sold out within hours of the first train arriving at the station. The full range of items can be purchased from the museum’s shop in Covent Garden, or online. They also confirmed that more Elizabeth line merchandise, including mugs and limited edition t-shirts, will be on sale in the summer.

Even though 1.2 million of them were ordered, the limited-edition Oyster cards that are being sold in central London tube stations are also going fast.

Although the morning of the first day was undeniably the moment for the transport fans who got up at often unnervingly early hours to ride the first trains, within just a few hours it was clear that commuters were already using the line as if its a normal part of their daily route. Indeed, the evening rush hour is when the line showed its value, soaking up people who were affected by problems on parts of the Circle, District and Jubilee lines.

Evening rush hour at Liverpool Street station on the opening day

The increase in central London’s rail capacity of 10 per cent is the largest single increase in decades, and the railway has cut journey times between Abbey Wood and Paddington by almost half, to approximately 29 minutes. Trips between Farringdon and Canary Wharf will now take around 10 minutes, instead of 24.

London is paying for most of the Elizabeth line, with nearly 70 per cent of the total funding paid by London – made up of roughly 30 per cent from London’s farepayers, around 40 per cent from London’s businesses – combined with 30 per cent from Government.


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  1. JP says:

    I admire your sang~frois and reserve.
    I’m afraid that I’d have been pointing the Crossrail project’s naysayers to the “Who’s paying how much?” figures in the last paragraph with decreasing applomb and increasing frustration.

    Yes, around the country there’s too much rolling stock which is much too old. Providing some updated ex-District line stock with added bogs and batteries isn’t the answer either.
    Since popular opinion has MPs as blinkered to this even when they leave London, perhaps we residents who have benefited from the elan of the Elizabeth line’s toothpaste-tube tunnels could rally support to relevant countryside collectives and get MPs to open their eyes and push through changes right to completion.

    • John L says:

      Where are all these ‘far too old’ trains you mention, JP, (outside London and the South, where there are still a great many)? The former District Line trains are only earmarked for a very small number of services, probably mostly as stop-gaps. The country north of Watford is awash with shiny new trains.

    • ChrisC says:

      Far more than that 30% from UK taxpayers (and that includes people who live in London) has been spent across the country whether it be on the trains and construction and engineering works and workers and suppliers and even down to that small company (on the Isle of Wight?) who makes the roundels and signage.

      This project has benefitted many parts of the country. It’s a shame lots of people can’t see that.

  2. Brian Butterworth says:

    My personal observation was that there were quite a few “fans” out, the line did seem to be used by folk who were using it “for real”. (Of course, I was testing my client’s software).

    I guess that as many people use Google Maps to plan their trips, the moment a new line opens these people are directed onto it.

    I noted what the PSA on the DLR train when I got off at West India Quay (because it’s less than 2 minutes from the DLR train to the Liz line gateline) didn’t seem to have been told that you can OSI change to Canary Wharf EL from Poplar DLR, West India Quay DLR and Canary Wharf DLR (but not Heron Quays DLR).

    I note that the DLR map’s not been Liz Lined yet – – much like the “Central London Tube Map” on the tube lines.

  3. NG says:

    Arriving @ Paddington at about 12.45 on day 2 ( Wednesday ) ..
    It was almost full – there were more people in it than seats, large numbers of them being “regular punters” with suitcase-trolleys, transiting between Heathrow/Gatwick/Stansted.
    I think that after it’s fully open, next May it is going to be seriously wedged, even with 9-car trains (!)
    It will also help TfL’s finances, in their struggle against a certain B Johnston ……

    • ChrisC says:

      By Next May (if not sooner) there will be twice as many trains in the central section as now – 24 rather than 12

      And 6 from LHR over the current 2 TFL trains.

      Plus the 4 HEX for those thst want to spend a small fortune to save a few minutes.

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