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.
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.
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.