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When is Crossrail opening and what stops are on the Elizabeth Line?

Everything you need to know about the Crossrail project, the Elizabeth Line route and the 2022 opening date

Lucy Thackray
Tuesday 24 May 2022 11:10 BST
Purple roundels being installed at Elizabeth Line stations
Purple roundels being installed at Elizabeth Line stations (TfL)

The Crossrail project, also known as the Elizabeth line, has finally opened, some 41 months after the original projected opening date.

The purple-branded Elizabeth line opened early on the morning of 24 May, with the first train departing Paddington Station at 6.33am.

But where does the new rail line through London run to and from, and which stops are on the route?

Here’s everything you need to know.

What is Crossrail?

Crossrail is a project designed to create a rail link connecting east and west London, as well as the commuter towns to the east and west of the capital. It will start and end overground, with an underground portion running through the city centre.

Plans for better links between east and west London are nothing new - the roots of campaigns for what is now Crossrail stretch back to the 1940s and beyond.

However, it took until October 1990 for the UK government to approve a modern plan for an east-west London rail line. It was then postponed during the 1990s, before Cross London Rail Links Ltd (CLRL) was set up in January 2002.

Amid many stages of government approval, the Crossrail route was confirmed in 2008 and ground was broken at Canary Wharf on 15 May 2009.

In 2010 it was confirmed that Crossrail would open with a phased series of services being introduced. Tunnelling for the project began in May 2012.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “This is the most significant addition to our transport network in decades, and will revolutionise travel across the capital and the south east – as well as delivering a £42bn boost to the whole UK economy and hundreds of thousands of new homes and jobs.”

What is the Elizabeth Line?

The Elizabeth Line is the name for the TFL-operated rail service that will run along Crossrail, from Reading and Heathrow in the west to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east.

The line is marked out in purple on the TFL map, and passes through Paddington, Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road and Liverpool Street in the centre of London - speeding up journey times between key hubs for services to the rest of the UK.

“The transformational railway will reduce journey times, create additional transport capacity, improve accessibility and provide a huge economic boost to the capital and beyond. With new stations and travel links, the Elizabeth Line will support new housing and jobs across London, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Essex,” promises the Crossrail website.

The Queen unveiled the purple roundel that marks out the line in February 2016. On 18 May 2022 she made a surprise appearance to officially “open” the completed Elizabeth Line, named in her honour.

The 96-year-old monarch joined her youngest son the Earl of Wessex at Paddington Station for the royal visit less than a week before the official opening of the line. She was given an Oyster card and shown how to top it up at a ticket machine. However, the line is not due to open to the public until 24 May.

The Elizabeth line was unveiled on 24 May, with only part of the full line in operation.

Which part of the line is open?

From 24 May 2022, the only through-London service will be between Abbey Wood, in the southeast of the city, and Paddington station, in the west of town.

Crossrail has confirmed that the line will not run on Sundays until some time in autumn 2022, and one of the key central stations – Bond Street – will not be accessible from the Elizabeth Line until later in the year.

While there are trains at either end of the line - from Reading to Paddington and from Liverpool Street to Shenfield, Essex - passengers will initially have to change at those stops to connect to trains out of London.

The full line is slated to open in May 2023.

The Elizabeth Line map (Transport for London (TfL))

When it is finished, what will the stops on the Elizabeth Line be?

From west to east, the stops on the Reading-Shenfield line will be as follows:

  • Reading
  • Twyford
  • Maidenhead
  • Taplow
  • Burnham
  • Slough
  • Langley
  • Iver
  • West Drayton
  • Hayes and Harlington
  • Southall
  • Hanwell
  • West Ealing
  • Ealing Broadway
  • Acton Main Line
  • Paddington
  • Bond Street
  • Tottenham Court Road
  • Farringdon
  • Liverpool Street
  • Whitechapel
  • Stratford
  • Maryland
  • Forest Gate
  • Manor Park
  • Ilford
  • Seven Kings
  • Goodmayes
  • Chadwell Heath
  • Romford
  • Gidea Park
  • Harold Wood
  • Brentwood
  • Shenfield

The Abbey Wood branch, which runs from Whitechapel, will stop at the following:

  • Canary Wharf
  • Custom House
  • Woolwich
  • Abbey Wood

The Heathrow branch, which runs from Hayes and Harlington, will stop at the following:

  • Heathrow Terminals 2 & 3
  • Heathrow Terminal 4
  • Heathrow Terminal 5

When was the line due to open and why has it been delayed?

TFL originally announced that the line would open on 9 December 2018.

Delays have alternately been blamed on: a decision to delay procurement of rolling stock in 2018; tunelling issues around Bond Street; overspending; planning pushback; and the Covid-19 pandemic.

The known cost of the project has now topped the £18.6bn mark.

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