Ever since construction started, there’s been suggestions about how and where to extend the Elizabeth line, which have only got louder once the line opened and people saw the effect it had on travel.

Now, Transport for London (TfL) has outlined some early tentative options for future Elizabeth line extensions.

However, ahead of any extension to the railway, there’s the looming issue of what happens when HS2 opens and relies on the Elizabeth line to carry passengers between Old Oak Common and central London. TfL is already in talks with the government to fund the purchase of more Elizabeth line trains to soak up the thousands of extra passengers that will use the line.

HS2’s temporary terminus at Old Oak Common is due to open in around 2030, so securing approvals to buy the extra trains is the immediate priority.

TfL is also looking at how to aleviate congestion on the railway, with options for more services in the central core and west of London. TfL says they “expect these to have strong business cases and will progress with further appraisal, operational feasibility and investment prioritisation over the coming year.”

TfL currently estimates that it could lift the central core train frequency from 24 trains per hour in the peak hours to 30 trains per hour – one every two minutes, which would be nudging close to its theoretical operational limit.

At this very early stage, it’s too early to say what an increased level of service would look like, but it’s likely to see more trains on the Abbey Wood to Reading/Heathrow section of the line, offering the added benefit of reducing the current 7-minute gaps between trains east of Whitechapel. An alternative option is to leave the train frequency unchanged but lengthen the trains. The trains are all 9-cars in length, but most of the stations can support 10-car trains, increasing the capacity of the trains by about 11 percent.

Following that, there’s future expansion of the line to new destinations being looked at – but all are subject to funding.

The most obvious and most researched at this stage is the extension eastwards beyond Abbey Wood to Ebbsfleet. That’s also the most expensive option as it requires a substantial upgrade of the railway east of Abbey Wood station.

The other two options are related and would piggyback on two unrelated privately funded railway projects west of London that aim to improve rail links with Heathrow Airport.

One, listed as “Heathrow to Langley” would make use of the proposed Western Rail Link, and could see Elizabeth line trains that currently run between Reading and Paddington divert to go via Heathrow.

The potential for that has already been considered an option and would be less of an extension than making use of an option to create a new loop on the railway, improving rail connections between Heathrow and the west of England.

The other idea being looked at is to make use of another proposed Heathrow railway, the Southern Rail Link, which aims to improve services to the southwest out towards Woking. In this situation, TfL is looking at running Elizabeth line trains to Staines.

Staines would be an ideal terminus for an extended Elizabeth line as there’s space to expand the station and add the extra platforms that would be necessary, and the station is itself next to a junction which feeds passengers towards Bracknell or to Windsor in the west and Waterloo in central London.

Hypothetical Elizabeth line map with Heathrow extensions

All these options are dependent on funding.

However, an agreement to run Elizabeth line trains over either or both of the proposed privately funded Heathrow railways may help their chances of being built thanks to the extra income from leasing track capacity to more trains, making either of those extensions more likely to be built. Fortunately, when Heathrow Terminal 5’s railway and tube station was being built, they included space for two more mainline train platforms, leaving space for both the Elizabeth line and mainline rail services to use the Heathrow links.

Funding requirements for the Ebbsfleet extension would be considerably greater, but the councils along the route have already been investigating how they could put forward a case for the line to be built, funded mainly by local taxes and developer contributions.


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  1. Clive Leswell says:

    A link to Staines is desperately needed with trains running to Woking or Guildford.
    Think of the traffic it will remove from the M25. There are no rail links to Heathrow from the southwest of London .
    When travelling to Heathrow 99.9% use a car from this area.
    Its also where a huge portion of the workforce live.

    • Brian Butterworth says:

      Heathrow Terminal 5 Staines is uses a disused railway that does 95% of the way. I’ve walked it and it’s easy if the trains terminate at Staines.

      Trying to the the Liz Line trains to run on the South Western Railway’s power and signalling would be much more expensive challenge.

    • Nicholas Scales says:

      Totally agree an extension or rail link to West and South West out of Heathrow is needed. The fact people still have to rely on RailAir coaches is a joke.
      As someone living in Plymouth and travelling on Business the Hex is useful but direct trains going towards Reading or Oxford would be useful.

  2. Marc Ricketts says:

    Now that would be good to Expand the Elizabeth Line to Stains and Ebbsfleet. But why not plan to Expand the Elizabeth Line to Chelmsford in the future as well?

    • Matt Sawyer says:

      Or Norwich?

    • Derek Monnery says:

      The new Beaulieu Park station in Chelmsford has an extra platform so that trains can terminate. This would be about the same distance from London as Reading. However congestion north of Shenfield may rule this out.

    • MilesT says:

      For a brief period trains from Norwich ran over the North London Line (Mildmay) to Basingstoke. Wouldn’t need to use Eliz trackage at all.

      (Woking would also be possible with that sort of route, I think)

  3. Sam says:

    I’m really happy that the Elizabeth line has been such a success, but why is it that the government will be willing to pour billions into London but not complete HS2.

    • ianVisits says:

      The bulk of the cost of the Elizabeth line was paid for by Londoners – so while there was government support, it was a minority stake. The difficultu for HS2 is that it was entirely government/debt funded and minimally funded locally, so it’s much easier for the government to walk away.

    • Derek Monnery says:

      Government dislikes railways and has no vision

    • Colin Brown says:

      Londoner’s paid for improved transportation links by approving road pricing, where as when the same opportunity were offered elsewhere in the country, those regions rejected it. Can’t have it both ways?

  4. Steve says:

    Useful to connect to Ebbsfleet “International” for all those European connections and Eurostars that stop there… oh wait 😒😆

  5. MPW says:

    “could see Elizabeth line trains that currently run between Reading and Paddington divert to go via Heathrow.”

    Wouldn’t it be extending current heathrow terminators to reading, so overall increase in number of trains to Reading? Or is there limited space between Langley and Reading? Seems Iver and west Drayton would have reduction in service if current reading trains went via heathrow

  6. Keith says:

    I’m guessing that the western plans also rely on the assumption that the Heathrow Express service not being renewed beyond 2028. This would free up the capacity that would probably be required, especially if a link to T5 via Langley was added. The T5 to Staines extension seems feasible though given the relatively short distance involved.

    • MIchael Jennings says:

      It’s always been the case the TfL would like to take over the train paths being used by the Heathrow Express and instead continue four an hour of the Elizabeth line services terminating at Paddington to Heathrow T5. However, Heathrow Airport doesn’t want this and they own the branch line to Heathrow and the stations once the trains get there.

      This will no doubt all be resolved at some point, but nobody is quite sure when.

    • ChrisC says:

      @ Michael

      HAL will likely make more money from the additional passenger access charges then it does from running the HEX service.

      If the HEX concession ends in 2028 it would actually mean TFL could run more Lizzie trains because that would free up the Train paths the HEX blocks to be able to opperate the express services.

    • Andrew Bishop says:

      Indeed. Elizabeth Line must get to Gravesend – even if a rebuild of the station is required.
      For most of the day, Ebbsfleet “International” is oh so quiet, whilst just 2 miles further along, Gravesend is a super busy interchange.

  7. Tim says:

    I love the idea of Lizzie line extensions, Staines and/or more services to Heathrow seem to be a no-brainer in terms of objective (I don’t know technically).

    I would be nervous though about reliability. The main issue with the line is where it runs on National Rail, and this then obviously has caused a number of issues along the central section too. More National Rail feels right now to be a bad thing for those of us using the service in the Core tunnels.

  8. Gabes says:

    Not taking into consideration all complications like technical details and funding, having Lizzie reaching easternwards would be amazing for locals.

  9. mikH says:

    How about extending the Elizabeth line to Manchester. Would be a useful connection!

    • Ed says:

      That’s what Watkins, the chairman of the Metropolitan Railway (now the Metropolitan Line) had plans to do.

  10. Richard says:

    What’s happened to the proposed link to Chessington, the whole of that line and surrounding area was closed for 2-3 months a few years ago (I couldn’t get to work for 3 months and had a massive argument with my employer at the time) to allow the upgrade to take place and it’s suddenly gone very quiet.

    Could easily extend the Chessington line to connect to Epsom/Leatherhead with trains into Victoria and Waterloo already there

  11. Maurice Reed says:

    All these extension ideas are fine but there is a major problem — the bottleneck through central London. The loading on this section must be nearly full by now.

  12. George says:

    It seems ages away if ever possible but hoping on Lizzie in the morning in Gravesend and just hoping off in central London would be a dream. I’d do even with 2 tph (4 would be perfect).

    Even more far-fetched, however amazing nonetheless, is the Thurrock council proposed giant loop linking Abbey Wood and Romford. It’d help to close the gap of connectivity between towns in the north and south bank while still connecting all the cities in between.

  13. Sam says:

    I can’t see how Ebbsfleet would work because it’s the high speed Line so surely it would interfere with that, the line comes out of Ebbsfleet and then goes straight under the river into Essex so I don’t understand how they’d make it work without building an entire new line unless they used the eurostar track and built a extension at Stratford but even that could interfere with the Eurostar as it no longer stops at Ebbsfleet but still goes past

  14. Chris Rose says:

    Typical of LBofBexley that its support for an Ebbsfleet extension is based more on its unsustainable ‘growthist’ fixation with driving ever more ‘development’ than providing transport links actually needed. Ebbsfleet now a less attractive proposition with Swanscombe Mickey Mouse theme park plan now mired in proponent’s incompetence/infighting, growing opposition (incl. from previous supporters) and, quite rightly, SSSI designation of much of site.

  15. Anthony Laurent says:

    I could never understand why the line ended at Abbeywood as it’s not a real junction and Dartford or Ebbsfleet are the logical termini!

  16. Ash says:

    The cross rail route from London to Gravesend is already safe guarded and will make so much sense for it to be extended in the East. It’s already reaching Reading in West and Shenfield in Essex. So it makes sense to evenly extend in the East to Gravesend.

  17. Joanne says:

    Needs to be extended from Acton to service the golden mile in Brentford. Possible route mile 4, Lionel Road North, Phoenix business park, GSK grounds then loop back to Sothall

  18. Robert says:

    What’s the point running to staines by the time they get it built , fares will be so expensive nobody will be able to afford the ticket prices ?

  19. Ant says:

    This sounds like my hopes for the Heathrow Southern rail link are finally over 😔

  20. Brian Wood says:

    Better to ‘stick’ at 24 trains per hour (TPH) than risk reliability by overdoing it at 30 tph- learn from the issues with Thameslink. Pinch points where trains cross at junctions are a constraint. Longer trains are ‘easier’ if platforms can be universally long enough. More routes may result in decreasing frequencies to some stations, eg Iver, West Drayton? It’s not all gain. New lines might suggest accompanying ‘development’ aka ‘concreting over the countryside’. At the eastern end perhaps new tracks linking north and south banks Thurrock/ Medway might suggest a very commutable ‘new town’?

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