Crossrail: The giant new ‘cathedral stations’ underneath London set to open next year

The long-awaited arrival of the Elizabeth line next year is set to transform Central London’s interchange stations.

Instead of placing the new platforms directly under the existing stations at Paddington, Farringdon and Liverpool Street, the Elizabeth line platforms have been built in strategic positions to one side of the station, allowing the platforms to be ‘knocked through’ into adjacent stations.

It means that the Elizabeth line will be able to serve two areas at the same time.

READ MORE: ‘I feel cheated and conned, we were sold a lie!’ East London hits breaking point over Elizabeth line delays

At Paddington, the Elizabeth line platforms will be directly between the National Rail/Hammersmith & Circle line station and the tube station at Praed Street.

At Farringdon, one end of the Elizabeth line platform will connect to the Thameslink ticket hall and the other to the tube platforms at Barbican.

At Liverpool Street, one end will exit onto Liverpool Street station and the other to Moorgate station.

This will effectively mean at three locations, two separate stations will be physically connected to each other, creating three giant underground complexes the size of a cathedral.

Similar to the current set-up at Bank and Monument, the ‘cathedral station’ has long been a concept in Paris.

Elizabeth line trains are longer than trains which currently run on similar lines meaning their long platforms can stretch from one station to another

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Paddington (and Paddington)

Anyone who has ever attempted to change to the Hammersmith & City or Circle line at Paddington will know how long the trek is to get to them from other lines.

The Elizabeth line station has been built in such a way to ‘plug the gap’. It means that you will be able to walk from the Circle and District line platforms (at Praed Street), along the Bakerloo line platforms, through the Elizabeth line station, and up to the Hammersmith & Circle platforms.

It will avoid the need to go out of the station to go back into the other one.

There is one catch though. Until May 2023, Elizabeth line trains coming from Shenfield will continue to terminate here and not go onto Reading or Heathrow.

It means that to make an east-west journey across the capital such as Ilford to Southall you will still have to initially change trains at Paddington, which could involve making your way upstairs to the mainline platforms just now with TfL Rail.

1 Crossrail Hanover Square

The new Elizabeth line Bond Street station entrance on Hanover Square is two minutes walk from the Tube entrance at Oxford Circus

Bond Street (and Oxford Circus)

Bond Street will not be a cathedral station but deserves a mention because it will become Oxford Circus’ ‘second station by default’.

When Crossrail was first being planned, there were plans for it to stop at Oxford Circus, one of the busiest stations on the Tube network. Planners decided against it because Oxford Circus station is already too busy and would not be able to handle the extra passengers without massive work, which would be difficult and costly to build because of the amount of historic and listed buildings that surround the station.

Instead, the Elizabeth line station will have an exit onto Hanover Square, with a giant ticket hall for passengers.

Those astute shoppers and Soho-goers will know that Hanover Square is right behind Oxford Circus (in the side turning between the Microsoft and Apple stores).

This will help decongest that station, where 16 people were seriously injured in a stampede that happened there in 2017.

It also will provide the quickest link between the Victoria line and Elizabeth line trains.

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The Elizabeth line entrance at Farringdon is already visible from Thameslink platform 4. You’ll be able to walk through here to get to Barbican

Farringdon (and Barbican)

Farringdon will become a centre-point for rail travel across South East England as it will be where the east-west Elizabeth line intersects the north-south Thameslink.

As that will likely cause huge passenger flows (notably to airports as the Elizabeth line becomes the fastest way to Heathrow and Southend via Stratford, and Thameslink already is to Luton and Gatwick), an additional entrance is being placed at the corner of Long Lane and Lindsey Street.

That entrance will also have a connection to the Circle, Hammersmith & City, and Metropolitan line platforms, taking advantage of the abandoned space which was used by Bedford to Moorgate trains until 2009 when the line was built over.

It means that to get from Farringdon to Barbican you will either be able to take the Tube one stop, get out at Farringdon, walk at street level to Barbican, and enter there or simply walk along the Elizabeth line platforms.

From the far end of Thameslink platform 4 to the ticket office at Barbican, it is a third of a mile.

0 tfl image moorgate station entrance

Moorgate got a new ticket hall in preparation for the Elizabeth line, which will be connected to the Northern line platforms here

Liverpool Street (and Moorgate)

We’re already starting to see signs of this station marriage.

TfL Rail trains are already announcing ‘change for Northern line’ at Liverpool Street, even though the Northern line runs to Moorgate.

It’s because the Elizabeth line platforms will be connected at one end to the Central line platforms and at the other end to the Northern line at Moorgate.

The set-up at Liverpool Street/Moorgate will be similar to Bank/Monument, where it will still be quicker in some instances to walk it at street level.

A similar scenario exists in Paris where the large Gare St Lazare station is connected to the RER (equivalent to Crossrail) platforms at Auber, which are in turn connected to the Métro (equivalent to Tube) platforms at Opéra.

It means the potential reach of each line is increased through greater interchange opportunities without having to build new, close together stations which would slow down journeys.

0 Selective door opening Hanwell

Not all Elizabeth line stations will be as big as cathedrals. Here at Hanwell, the trains are longer than the platforms to trains overhang the platforms and doors stay shut in the rear coaches

What are your expectations of the Elizabeth line for when it opens? Tell us in the comments below.

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