he £20 billion Elizabeth line has opened to Londoners with much fanfare after people queued throughout the night to take the first trains from Paddington and Abbey Wood.
There were extraordinary scenes and a party atmosphere as hundreds of passengers, the first of whom had been waiting since midnight, rushed down two flights of escalators to the platform to await the 06.33am, the first train to depart Paddington.
As the train set off bang-on time, Mayor Sadiq Khan exclaimed “phew!” and gave Transport for London commissioner Andy Byford a bear hug. Mr Khan, cupping his ear, told the Evening Standard: “Do you know what sound that is? Success.”
Mr Khan said: “It’s a landmark day.”
Josh, 11, from Ealing, arrived at 04.48am and was at the front of the queue. He said: “It’s really exciting. Is the Queen coming? I love this line – it’s amazing.” Mr Byford presented him with the first Elizabeth line commemorative mug.
The new line, also known as Crossrail, will transform the daily commute for Londoners, slashing journey times between key underground stations, like Paddington and Canary Wharf.
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What’s the ‘Heathrow premium’?
Elizabeth line passengers will pay a £7.20 “Heathrow premium” compared with the same journey on the Tube – but the journey will be about twice as quick.
A single journey between Paddington and Heathrow will cost £10.70 off-peak and £12.70 at peak times.
In comparison, a single Tube journey between zone one and the airport costs £3.50 off-peak and £5.50 at peak times – weekdays between 6.30am-9.30am and 4pm-7pm.
The Tube takes about 56 minutes from Paddington and requires at least one change of train.
The Elizabeth line will take 28 minutes from Paddington to reach the airport because it will call at six intermediate stations, including Ealing Broadway and Southall.
Meanwhile, fast train travel to and from Heathrow will cost almost 60 per cent less on Crossrail than the direct Heathrow Express.
The Heathrow Express, which takes 15 minutes and runs more frequently between the airport and Paddington, costs £25.
Trade union boss says Government ‘must sort out ticketing mess’
A trade union boss has hit out at complicated TfL fares which will “undoubtedly create additional work for station and ticket office staff.“
Manuel Cortes, general secretary for Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) union, wants to see the fares system simplified.
He told BBC London News: “To make Crossrail the success it should be, the government must sort out the ticketing mess which makes fares a dog’s breakfast.
“The complicated combination of TfL fares, contactless and national rail fares structures makes the mind boggle and will undoubtedly create additional work for station and ticket office staff.”
How much will it cost to ride the Elizabeth line?
Elizabeth line fares will match those on the London Underground.
Services currently operating as TfL Rail will remain unchanged.
But some parts of the line will cost slightly more.
Peak single journeys, weekdays from 6.30-9.30am and 4-7pm, to Heathrow airport from central London will cost £12.70.
They will be £2 cheaper at other times.
This compares with the Heathrow Express which costs £25 from Paddington.
Contactless pay-as-you-go payments are accepted across the line.
Daily and weekly capping will also apply.
‘Freedom passes’ allowing free travel, including to Heathrow and Reading, will be accepted after 9am on weekdays and at weekends.
Railcards attached to Oyster cards will also receive one-third off fares.
Similarly to the London Overground, folding bicycles are allowed at all times.
Non-folding bikes are only allowed off-peak.
New Oyster card released to mark the opening of the Elizabeth line
TfL commissioner: The universal reaction is ‘wow’
TfL commissioner Andy Byford has described the grand opening of the Elizabeth line as “so far so good”.
He said: “The customer reaction has been amazing, just as predicted.
“The universal reaction is ‘wow’.”
Meanwhile, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “It’s the biggest expansion in our transport network for more than 50 years.
“These trains are speedy, spacious, silent, comfortable.
“We know now they are fit for a Queen and, as importantly, fit for Londoners.”
Andy Byford and Sadiq Khan
When is Bond Street station opening and why is it delayed?
One station will not be serving passengers for several months.
All stations along the central section of the Elizabeth Line – from Abbey Wood to Paddington – are completed and now serving passengers, with the exception of Bond Street.
Problems identified included tunnelling.
Find out more about why Bond Street station’s opening has been delayed here.
How much quicker will your commute be now Crossrail is open?
Journey times between destinations in central London are being slashed for thousands of Londoners thanks to the opening of the new line.
Destinations as far as Reading and Heathrow in the west and Shenfield in the east will be connected to the central section of the line in autumn this year, reducing commuting times for many.
Abbey Wood, in the borough of Greenwich, will reap some of the greatest benefits now the Elizabeth line has opened.
The journey between Abbey Wood and Tottenham Court Road is slashed by around 28 minutes – the single greatest reduction in journey time in central London.
How much quicker will your commute be? Find out more here.
Sadiq Khan and Andy Byford were among those on first trains to leave
The Mayor of London was joined by TfL Commissioner Andy Byford on the Elizabeth line on the first day it opened to the public.
Mr Khan hailed it as “a landmark day”.
“I’m excited. I’m like the little boy before Christmas.”
He said the Elizabeth line is a “game-changer” that will “transform our city”.
He added that the trains are “fit for a Queen” after her Majesty visited Paddington last week to mark the completion of the Crossrail project.
Sadiq Khan and Andy Byford
/ Daniel Hambury/Stella Pictures Ltd1653375034
22 top facts about the new Elizabeth line
How many stations will the Elizabeth line serve?
When did the construction of it begin?
How long is the line and where does it run from?
We’ve pulled together 22 top facts about the new line – click here to find out more.
‘I’ve come all the way from Lincoln’
25-year-old Ryan, who was also at Paddington station, came all the way from Lincoln for the day.
“It’s good, I’m about to do it, but I haven’t yet,” he said. “I’ve come all the way from Lincoln this morning. I’m excited to go on it. I’m going to go to Abbey Wood.”
More happy customers get their first ride on new line
Peter, 19, had made the full journey from Abbey Wood to Paddington after convincing his mother to drive him to the station at five in the morning from their home near Bexley.
He said: “It’s a huge day. I got the first train from Abbey Wood. I got up at five, much to the annoyance of my family.
“I dragged my mum out of bed, saying, ‘It’s open, let’s go!’”
Peter got up at 5am to get to Abbey Wood
/ Josh Salisbury / Evening Standard