Many residents of East and West London have been waiting patiently for the long overdue Crossrail works to be completed and a full service direct to the heart of Central London to start.
Sadly, that wait is going to be even longer than many might have hoped.
Transport for London (TfL) has confirmed that when the Elizabeth line opens next year, it will run in three separate sections.
Those travelling from stations on the existing TfL Rail lines from East and West London will need to change from one Elizabeth line train to another from when the line opens in mid-2022 until May 2023.
There were hopes earlier in the year that the May 2023 timetable would be brought forward, and some plans had stated that trains would run in two overlapping sections instead of three separate ones.
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The announcement is a pushback for outer Londoners who have endured years of intermittent service disruption due to the continuing works to build the line.
When the line opens in mid-2022 (expected to be in April or May, but could be as early as February according to TfL documentation ), it will run the three following routes:
1. Reading/Heathrow Airport <> Paddington (existing mainline station)
2. Paddington (new Elizabeth line station) <> Liverpool Street (new Elizabeth line station) <> Abbey Wood
3. Liverpool Street (existing mainline station) <> Shenfield
This means those travelling from Ilford to Hayes & Harlington, will need to take an Elizabeth line train to Liverpool Street, go downstairs to the new Elizabeth line station, take another Elizabeth line train to Paddington, go upstairs to the mainline station and take a third Elizabeth line train to Hayes & Harlington.
In May 2023, that same journey will be able to be made on one single, direct train or with one change depending on the time of day.
Whitechapel will also be skipped by Shenfield trains, which will continue to run non-stop between Liverpool Street and Stratford as they do now under TfL Rail branding. Whitechapel will only be served by trains to and from Abbey Wood.
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The interim timetable allows TfL extra time to ensure the brand new section between Paddington, Stratford and Abbey Wood is operating the way it should be.
This is a common procedure on many new rail routes, including High Speed 1 and Thameslink’s Canal Tunnels which did not immediately move to a full timetable upon launch.
In both examples, an interim timetable with a reduced, ‘preview’ service operated similar to how only trains to and from Abbey Wood will serve the new Central London Elizabeth line section for around 13 months.
Announcing the conclusion of station improvement works on the West London section of the route at Hayes & Harlington yesterday, TfL confirmed: “When the railway opens in the first half of 2022, it will operate as three separate railways. Customers from Hayes & Harlington will initially have to change at Paddington for services into the central section of the route.”
When the Northern line extension opens this Monday (September 20), the opposite scenario is set to occur. Northern line services to Mill Hill East which used to be separate from the rest of the line, will run through to Central London all day every day.
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