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Elizabeth Line: London's £19bn rail link opens to public

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan (right) and Andy Byford, commissioner at TfL disembark the first Elizabeth line train to carry passengers at Farringdon Station. Photo: Kirsty O'Connor/PA
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan (right) and Andy Byford, commissioner at TfL disembark the first Elizabeth line train to carry passengers at Farringdon Station. Photo: Kirsty O'Connor/PA

After years of delays, London's over-budget Elizabeth Line has finally opened, with hundreds of people queueing in the capital in an attempt to be among the first passengers.

The first trains departed from Paddington and Abbey Wood stations on Tuesday morning.

A crowd of 300 people gathered outside Paddington ahead of the service’s opening at 6.30am, with the first train departing at 6.33am carrying hundreds of excited passengers.

Read more: Elizabeth Line map: How will new London Crossrail route affect my journey?

The line will boost capacity and cut journey times for east-west travel across the capital.

It will offer faster journeys from Heathrow Airport and Berkshire in the west to Essex in the east through a series of new, long tunnels under London.

Crowds wait in line to board the first Elizabeth line train to carry passengers at Paddington Station. Photo: PA
Crowds wait in line to board the first Elizabeth line train to carry passengers at Paddington Station. Photo: PA

Initially 12 trains per hour will run in each direction through the middle section of the line, which includes 21 kilometres (13 miles) of tunnel.

Trains will run every five minutes between 6:30am and 11pm Monday to Saturday.

Passengers' initial reactions have been mainly positive, with commuters who took to social media, impressed by "vast" platforms, "mega" escalators and "cathedral" stations.

The line, which has been delayed by issues with safety testing and signalling systems, even before the coronavirus pandemic halted work, opened three-and-a-half years late and was £4bn over budget.

Construction of the £19bn line (£20bn including trains) started in 2009.

The project was budgeted at £14.8bn in 2010 and was slated to open in 2018 before it fell apart as engineers tried to produce an extraordinary complex railway and 10 new stations in central London.

Queen Elizabeth II unveils a plaque to mark the official opening of the Elizabeth Line rail service at Paddington Station. Photo: Andrew Matthews/POOL/AFP via Getty
Queen Elizabeth II unveils a plaque to mark the official opening of the Elizabeth Line rail service at Paddington Station. Photo: Andrew Matthews/POOL/AFP via Getty

The line, which was originally named Crossrail, has been renamed the "Elizabeth" line in honour of Queen Elizabeth. Transport for London (TfL) said the railway is expected to carry around 200 million passengers a year and will increase London's rail capacity by 10%.

Image: PA
Image: PA

TfL said said the railway is expected to support thousands of new homes and jobs and will add around £42bn to the UK economy.

London mayor Sadiq Khan who travelled on the inaugural train, said: "It's a landmark day. I'm excited. I'm like the little boy before Christmas."

TfL commissioner Andy Byford, who rode alongside Khan said the opening day was set to be a truly historic moment for the capital and the country.

"The new railway will become a vital part of London's recovery by creating faster journeys, new jobs and economic growth," Byford added.

Watch: Where do the Queen and royal family get their money from?