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Crossrail is a 118-kilometre (73-mile) railway line under development in England, running through parts of London and the home counties of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Essex. The first portion of Crossrail – between Paddington and Abbey Wood – is due to open on 9 December 2018 and will be called the Elizabeth Line.

Crossrail seal only.svg
Crossrail tunnel looking west (11421362975).jpg
A Crossrail tunnel during construction
Other name(s) Elizabeth line (from December 2018)
System National Rail
Status Under construction
Locale Greater London; Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Essex
Termini West: London Heathrow Airport / Reading
East: Abbey Wood / Shenfield
Stations 40 (planned)
  • 2015: Liverpool Street to Shenfield route branded as TfL Rail
  • May 2018: Trains run from Paddington to Heathrow under the branding TFL Rail
  • December 2018 to December 2019: Elizabeth line opened in stages (see § Timeline)[2]
Operator(s) MTR Corporation (Crossrail) Ltd[3]
Rolling stock Class 345
9 carriages per trainset[4]
Line length approx. 118 km (73 mi)
Number of tracks 2
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Electrification 25 kV 50 Hz AC (overhead lines)
Operating speed 140 km/h (90 mph)
Route map
BSicon lACC.svg All stations will have step-free access from street to train
Reading National Rail
Twyford National Rail
Maidenhead National Rail
North sign pointing rightward
Slough National Rail
Airport interchange National Rail London Underground
Terminal 5
Airport interchange National Rail London Underground
Terminal 4
Airport interchange National Rail London Underground
Terminals 2 & 3
West Drayton
Hayes & Harlington National Rail
West Ealing National Rail
Ealing Broadway National Rail London Underground
Acton Main Line
Old Oak Common
Old Oak Common
National Rail London Overground
Ladbroke Grove
westbound turn-back
Royal Oak portal
Paddington enlarge… National Rail London Underground
Bond Street London Underground
Tottenham Court Road London Underground
Farringdon National Rail London Underground
National Rail London Underground London Overground Liverpool Street
Liverpool Street (Main Line)
(peak only services)
London Underground London Overground Whitechapel
London Underground Docklands Light Railway Canary Wharf
Pudding Mill Lane portal
Victoria Dock portal
Stratford National Rail London Underground London Overground Docklands Light Railway
Docklands Light Railway Custom House
Connaught tunnel
under Royal Docks
Forest Gate
Manor Park
National Rail Abbey Wood
Seven Kings
Safeguarded extension
to Gravesend
Chadwell Heath
Romford Control Centre
and depot
Romford National Rail London Overground
Gidea Park
Harold Wood
Shenfield National Rail

Part of the eastern section, between Liverpool Street and Shenfield in Essex, was transferred to a precursor service called TfL Rail in 2015; this section will be connected to the core route through central London to Paddington from May 2019. The western section, from Paddington to Heathrow Airport and Reading in Berkshire, is due to open in December 2019, completing the new east–west route across London and providing a new high-frequency commuter and suburban passenger service.

The project was approved in 2007 and construction began in 2009 on the central section and connections to existing lines that will become part of the route.[5] It is Europe's largest infrastructure construction project.[6][7][8] Its main feature is 21 km (13 mi) of new twin tunnels below central London.

These tunnels will run from Paddington to Stratford and Canary Wharf in the east.[9] An almost entirely new line will branch from the main line at Whitechapel to Canary Wharf, crossing under the River Thames, with a new station at Woolwich and finally connecting with the North Kent Line at the Abbey Wood terminus.

New nine-carriage Class 345 trains will run at frequencies in the central section of up to 24 trains per hour in each direction. It is expected to relieve pressure on existing east-west London Underground lines such as the Central and District lines, as well as the Jubilee line extension and the Heathrow branch of the Piccadilly line. The need for extra capacity along this corridor is such that the former head of TfL, Sir Peter Hendy, predicted that the Crossrail lines will be "immediately full" as soon as they open.[10] Crossrail will be operated by MTR Corporation (Crossrail) Ltd as a London Rail concession of Transport for London,[3] in a similar manner to London Overground.



Crossrail timeline
Date Event
1941–48 First proposals for cross-London railway tunnels put forward by George Dow
1974 London Rail Study Report recommends a PaddingtonLiverpool Street "Crossrail" tunnel
1989 Central London Rail Study proposes three Crossrail schemes, including an east–west Paddington/Marylebone–Liverpool Street route
1991 Private bill promoted by London Underground and British Rail submitted to Parliament proposing a Paddington–Liverpool Street tunnel; it is rejected in 1994
2001 Crossrail scheme promoted through Cross London Rail Links (CLRL)
2004 Senior railway managers promote an expanded regional Superlink scheme
2005 Crossrail Bill put before Parliament
2008 Crossrail Act 2008 receives royal assent
2009 Construction work begins at Canary Wharf
2015 Liverpool Street–Shenfield service transferred to TfL Rail
2017 New Crossrail trains introduced on Liverpool Street–Shenfield route
2018 Paddington–Heathrow services transfer to TfL Rail; central section opens under Elizabeth line name
2019 Full Elizabeth line route opens
2026 Possible opening of new station at Old Oak Common

Early proposalsEdit

The concept of large-diameter tunnels crossing central London to connect Paddington in the west and Liverpool Street in the east was first proposed by railwayman George Dow in The Star newspaper in June 1941.[11] The project that became Crossrail has origins in the 1943 County of London Plan and 1944 Greater London Plan by Patrick Abercrombie. These led to a specialist investigation by the Railway (London Plan) Committee, appointed in 1944 and reporting in 1946 and 1948.[12]

The term '"Crossrail" emerged in the 1974 London Rail Study Report.[13] Although the idea was seen as imaginative, only a brief estimate of cost was given: £300 million. A feasibility study was recommended as a high priority so that the practicability and costs of the scheme could be determined. It was also suggested that the alignment of the tunnels should be safeguarded[14][non-primary source needed] while a final decision was taken.

Later proposalsEdit

The Central London Rail Study of 1989 proposed tunnels linking the existing rail network as the "East–West Crossrail", "City Crossrail", and "North–South Crossrail" schemes. The east–west scheme was for a line from Liverpool Street to Paddington/Marylebone with two connections at its western end linking the tunnel to the Great Western Main Line and the Metropolitan line on the Underground. The City route was shown as a new connection across the City of London linking the Great Northern Route with London Bridge.

The north–south line proposed routing West Coast Main Line, Thameslink, and Great Northern trains through Euston and King's Cross/St Pancras, then under the West End via Tottenham Court Road, Piccadilly Circus and Victoria towards Crystal Palace and Hounslow. The report also recommended a number of other schemes including a "Thameslink Metro" route enhancement, and the Chelsea–Hackney line. The cost of the east–west scheme including rolling stock was estimated at £885 million.[15]

In 1991 a private bill was submitted to Parliament for a scheme including a new underground line from Paddington to Liverpool Street.[16] The bill was promoted by London Underground and British Rail, and supported by the government; it was rejected by the Private Bill Committee in 1994[17] on the grounds that a case had not been made, though the government issued "Safeguarding Directions", protecting the route from any development that would jeopardise future schemes.[18]

In 2001 Cross London Rail Links (CLRL), a joint-venture between TfL and the DfT, was formed to develop and promote the Crossrail scheme,[19] and also a Wimbledon–Hackney scheme.


The Crossrail Act 2008 was given royal assent in July 2008,[20][21] giving CLRL the powers necessary to build the line.[22] Construction began on 15 May 2009.[23] In September 2009 the project received £1 billion in funding. The money was lent to TfL by the European Investment Bank.[24] Both the Labour and Conservative parties made commitments in their manifestos for the 2010 election to deliver the railway, and the coalition government formed after the election also committed to the project.[25] The original schedule was that the first trains would run in 2017, but in 2010 the government delayed this to 2018 in order to save £1 billion.[26]


Crossrail's central core section will use new east–west twin tunnels under central London, splitting into two branches at either end. The tunnelled sections will be approximately 22 kilometres (14 mi) in length.

In the east, the line splits at Whitechapel, with one branch running over the existing Great Eastern Main Line via Stratford to Shenfield, and the other branch running through Canary Wharf and emerging from the tunnel at Custom House on a disused part of the North London Line, continuing under the River Thames to Abbey Wood.

In the west the route connects with the Great Western Main Line at Paddington and runs to Hayes and Harlington, where it splits. One branch runs to Heathrow Central (for Terminals 2 and 3), Heathrow Terminal 4 and Heathrow Terminal 5,[27] while the other runs over the existing main line to Reading.[28][29]

Western branchesEdit

Paddington will be a major interchange for Crossrail with the London Underground and Great Western Main Line services.

The main western section runs on the surface from Reading to Acton Main Line. Upgrades are being made to stations at Maidenhead, Taplow, Burnham, Slough, Langley, Iver, West Drayton, Hayes & Harlington, Southall, Hanwell, West Ealing, Ealing Broadway and Acton Main Line.

A "dive-under" was constructed at Acton to allow passenger trains to pass slower freight trains leaving and entering a goods yard. It was completed in July 2016 and was brought into use in 2017.[30][31]

The Heathrow spur has three stations, at Heathrow Central (for Terminals 2 and 3), Terminal 4 and Terminal 5,[27] and joins the main route at Airport Junction, between West Drayton and Hayes and Harlington.

Construction of a flyover near Hayes & Harlington station began in 2014, and will allow Heathrow Express trains to pass over the track used by Crossrail, avoiding delays caused by crossings.[32]

Crossrail had been planned to terminate at Maidenhead, with an extension to Reading safeguarded.[33] On 27 March 2014, however, it was announced that the line would indeed extend to Reading.[28][29][34]

Central sectionEdit

A limited number of peak-hour trains from Gidea Park will terminate at the existing Liverpool Street main line station.

The central tunnels run from a portal just west of Paddington to Whitechapel, with further tunnelling to Stratford and to Canary Wharf.

There will be new stations at Paddington, Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road, Farringdon, Liverpool Street and Whitechapel, with interchanges with the London Underground and other National Rail services. Due to the size and positioning of the new platforms, Farringdon station will also be connected to Barbican station, and Liverpool Street to Moorgate station.

Positioning a new station at Paddington presented structural design challenges due to its positioning just below Eastbourne Terrace and the station's taxi rank, and within 3 metres of Isambard Kingdom Brunel's 150 year old mainline station.[35]

Eastern branchesEdit

Stratford is a major interchange station on the Great Eastern Main Line.

One of the two eastern sections runs underground from Whitechapel to Stratford, then on the surface on the existing main line. The service will replace the "Shenfield metro", with key stops at Ilford, Romford (for interchange with London Overground services to Upminster), Gidea Park (where some peak hour trains will start or terminate), and Shenfield.

The other eastern branch runs underground from Whitechapel to Canary Wharf and Abbey Wood. It takes over the Custom House to Woolwich via Connaught tunnel stretch of the former North London Line built by the Eastern Counties and Thames Junction Railway, and connects it with the North Kent Line via a tunnel under the Thames at North Woolwich. It will include a station box at Woolwich,[36] however, efforts to connect Crossrail with London City Airport were not fruitful.[37]

Restoration of the Connaught tunnel by filling with concrete foam and reboring, as originally intended, was deemed too great a risk to the structural integrity of the tunnel, and so the docks above were drained to give access to the tunnel roof in order to enlarge its profile. This work took place during 2013.[38][39]

Design and infrastructureEdit

Name and identityEdit

Crossrail will be called the Elizabeth line from December 2018 and will use a purple-coloured TfL roundel.

The first Crossrail line (West/East across London) will be named the Elizabeth line after Queen Elizabeth II from its opening in central London in December 2018.[40] Crossrail will use a version of the Transport for London roundel, coloured purple with a blue bar, for this new mode of transport.


There are five tunnelled sections, each with an internal diameter of 6.2 m (20 ft 4 in)[41] (compared with 3.81 m (12 ft 6 in) for the deep-level Victoria line), totalling 21 km (13 mi) in length: a 6.4 km (4.0 mi) tunnel from Royal Oak to Farringdon; an 8.3 km (5.2 mi) tunnel from Limmo Peninsula in Canning Town to Farringdon; a 2.7 km (1.7 mi) tunnel from Pudding Mill Lane near Stratford to Stepney Green; a 2.6 km (1.6 mi) tunnel from Plumstead to North Woolwich (Thames tunnel section); and a 0.9 km (0.6 mi) tunnel from Limmo Peninsula to the Victoria Dock portal which re-uses the Pudding Mill Lane to Stepney tunnelling machines.

Each section consists of two tunnels excavated at the same time, with two tunnel boring machines (TBMs) per section. The tunnel linings are constructed from concrete sections, some of which are produced in Chatham Dockyard then transported by barge to the Limmo Peninsula. Tunnelling is expected to progress at around 100 m (330 ft) per week.[41] The main tunnelling contracts are valued at around £1.5 billion.[42] The wide diameter tunnels allow for new Class 345 rolling stock, which is larger than the traditional deep-level tube trains. The tunnels allow for the emergency evacuation of passengers through the side-doors rather than along the length of the train. When bicycles are allowed to be carried it is regarded as essential to allow evacuation to the sides of the train.[43]


The platforms at Gidea Park and other existing stations are being extended to accommodate the longer Crossrail trains.

As well as 9 brand new stations, Crossrail requires significant work on existing station infrastructure. Although initially the trains will be 200 metres (660 feet) long, platforms at the new stations in the central core are being built to enable 240-metre-long trains in case of possible future extensions. At existing stations, platforms are being lengthened accordingly.[44]

In the eastern section, Maryland and Manor Park will not have platform extensions, so trains will use selective door opening instead.[45] At Maryland this is because of the prohibitive cost of extensions and the poor business case,[46] and at Manor Park it is due to the presence of a freight loop that would otherwise be cut off.[47]

A mock-up of the new stations was built in Bedfordshire to ensure that the architectural integrity would last for a century.[44] It was planned to bring at least one mock-up to London for the public to view the design and give feedback before final construction commenced.[48]

Of the 40 stations, 32 will have step-free access to both platforms;[49] train doors will be level with the platforms at central stations and at Heathrow. The stations will be fully equipped with CCTV[50][non-primary source needed] and, due to the length of the platforms, train indicators will be above the platform-edge doors in central stations.[48]

It was announced on 5 July 2017 that Crossrail services would be extended to Heathrow Terminal 5 from December 2019, meaning that all Heathrow terminals will have a Crossrail service when the full service commences in December 2019.[51]

Rolling stockEdit

A Class 345 train in Elizabeth Line livery, with temporary TFL Rail branding

Crossrail will operate new Class 345 trains.[52] The requirement is for 65 trains, each 200 metres (660 feet) long and carrying up to 1,500 passengers.[52] The trains will be accessible, including dedicated areas for wheelchairs, with audio and visual announcements, CCTV and speaker-phones connected to the driver in case of emergency.[50] Crossrail has stated that the new trains will be based on existing designs to minimise costs associated with development.[53] They will run at up to 140 km/h (90 mph) on certain parts of the route.[54]

In March 2011, Crossrail announced that five bidders had been shortlisted for the contract to build the Class 345 and its associated depot.[55] One of the bidders, Alstom, withdrew from the process in July 2011. In February 2012, Crossrail issued an invitation to negotiate to CAF, Siemens, Hitachi and Bombardier, with tenders expected to be submitted by mid-2012.[56] In 2013, Siemens also withdrew from the bid, but will provide signalling and control systems for Crossrail.[57]

In February 2014, Transport for London and the Department for Transport announced that the contract to build and maintain the new rolling stock had been awarded to Bombardier.[4] The contract covers the supply, delivery and maintenance of 65 new trains and a depot at Old Oak Common. The trains are being built at Bombardier's Derby Litchurch Lane Works. This contract will support around 760 UK manufacturing jobs plus 80 apprenticeships. An estimated 74 per cent of contract spend is expected to remain in the UK economy.[58] The design will be based on Bombardier's Aventra design. The first Class 345 train entered service on 22 June 2017 and they are notable in that they are the first mainline trains in Britain since 1962 to not have a yellow warning panel of any kind painted on the driving ends.[59]

Electrification and signallingEdit

Crossrail will use 25 kV, 50 Hz AC overhead lines, as on the Great Eastern Main Line and the Great Western Main Line as far as Airport Junction. Overhead electrification has been installed between Airport Junction and Didcot Parkway as part of the 21st-century modernisation of the Great Western Main Line (GWML upgrade), but Crossrail will only use it as far as Reading.

The signalling will be a mixture of ETCS 2 on the western branches from 2019, communication-based train control with automatic train operation on the core and Abbey Wood branch (with a possible later upgrade to ETCS), and Automatic Warning System with Train Protection & Warning System on the Great Eastern Main Line.[60][61][non-primary source needed][62]


Crossrail will have two depots, in west London at Old Oak Common and in east London at a new signalling centre at Romford.[63][64]


Construction of the Crossrail portal at Royal Oak, from a footbridge to the west of Royal Oak Underground station, July 2011
Construction of Crossrail at Tottenham Court Road in September 2011

In April 2009, Crossrail announced that 17 firms had secured 'Enabling Works Framework Agreements' and would now be able to compete for packages of works.[65] At the peak of construction up to 14,000 people are expected to be needed in the project's supply chain.[66][67]

Work began on 15 May 2009 when piling works started at the future Canary Wharf station.[68]

The threat of diseases being released by work on the project was raised by Lord James of Blackheath at the passing of the Crossrail Bill. He told the House of Lords select committee that 682 victims of anthrax had been brought into Smithfield in Farringdon with some contaminated meat in 1520 and then buried in the area.[69] On 24 June 2009 it was reported that no traces of anthrax or bubonic plague had been found on human bone fragments discovered during tunnelling.[70]

Invitations to tender for the two principal tunnelling contracts were published in the Official Journal of the European Union in August 2009. 'Tunnels West' (C300) was for twin 6.2 kilometres (3.9 mi)-long tunnels from Royal Oak through to the new Crossrail Farringdon Station, with a portal west of Paddington. The 'Tunnels East' (C305) request was for three tunnel sections and 'launch chambers' in east London.[71][non-primary source needed] Contracts were awarded in late 2010: the 'Tunnels West' contract was awarded to BAM Nuttall, Ferrovial Agroman and Kier Construction (BFK); the 'Tunnels East' contract was awarded to Dragados and John Sisk & Son.[72][73] The remaining tunnelling contract (C310, Plumstead to North Woolwich), which included a tunnel under the Thames, was awarded to Hochtief and J. Murphy & Sons in 2011.[74]

By September 2009, preparatory work for the £1 billion developments at Tottenham Court Road station had begun, with buildings (including the Astoria Theatre) being compulsorily purchased and demolished.[75]

In March 2010, contracts were awarded to civil engineering companies for the second round of 'enabling work' including 'Royal Oak Portal Taxi Facility Demolition', 'Demolition works for Crossrail Bond Street Station', 'Demolition works for Crossrail Tottenham Court Road Station' and 'Pudding Mill Lane Portal'.[76] In December 2010, contracts were awarded for most of the tunnelling work.[77]

The second Tunnel Boring Machine "Ada" en route to the Royal Oak Portal, June 2012

In December 2011, a contract to ship the excavated material from the tunnel to Wallasea Island[78] was awarded to a joint venture comprising BAM Nuttall Limited and Van Oord UK Limited.[79][80][non-primary source needed] Between 4.5 and 5 million tonnes of soil will be used to construct a new wetland nature reserve (Wallasea Wetlands).[78][81] The project eventually moved seven million tons of earth.[82]

Boring of the railway tunnels was officially completed at Farringdon on 4 June 2015 in the presence of the Prime Minister and the Mayor of London.[83]

Installation of the track was completed in September 2017.[84]

Eye of the NeedleEdit

The "Eye of the Needle" is a name that the contractors gave to a place at Tottenham Court Road station where the new tunnel had to go over existing Northern line tunnels and under an escalator tunnel, with less than a metre clearance on both top and bottom (including 85 centimetres (33 in) clearance on the bottom with the Northern line tunnels).[85]

Tunnel boring machinesEdit

The project used eight 7.1-metre (23-foot) diameter tunnel-boring machines (TBM) from Herrenknecht AG (Germany). Two types are used; 'slurry' type for the Thames tunnel, which involves tunnelling through chalk; and 'Earth Pressure Balance Machines' (EPBM) for tunnelling through clay, sand and gravel (at lower levels through Lambeth Group and Thanet Sands ground formation). The TBMs weigh nearly 1,000 tonnes and are over 100 metres (330 feet) long.[41][86]

The TBMs were named following tunnelling tradition. Crossrail ran a competition in January 2012 in which over 2500 entries were received and 10 pairs of names short-listed. After a public vote in February 2012, the first three pairs of names were announced on 13 March:[87]

On 16 August 2013, the names of the last pair of TBMs were announced:[88]

  • Jessica and Ellie, Pudding Mill Lane to Stepney Green and Limmo Peninsula to Victoria Dock sections, named after Jessica Ennis and Ellie Simmonds

Health, safety, and industrial relationsEdit

The collapsed gantry (29 September 2012)

In 2012 Crossrail faced accusations and evidence of blacklisting. An industrial relations manager Ron Barron, employed by Bechtel, had routinely cross-checked job applicants against the Consulting Association database.[89] An employment tribunal in 2010 had heard that he introduced the use of the blacklist at his former employer, the construction firm Chicago Bridge & Iron Company (CB&I), and referred to it more than 900 times in 2007 alone. He was found to have unlawfully refused employment to a Philip Willis, with aggravated damages awarded because Barron had added information about Willis to the blacklist.[89]

In May 2012, a BFK manager challenged their subcontractor, Electrical Installations Services Ltd. (EIS), saying that one of their electricians was a trade union activist. Some days later, Pat Swift, the HR manager for BFK and a regular user of the Consulting Association, again challenged EIS. EIS refused to dismiss their worker and lost the contract. Flash pickets were held at the Crossrail site and also at the sites of the BFK partners.[citation needed] The Scottish Affairs Select Committee called on the UK Business Secretary, Vince Cable, to set up a government investigation into blacklisting at Crossrail.[90][91] The electrician was reinstated.[92] Further allegations of blacklisting against Crossrail were made in Parliament in September 2017.[93]

In September 2012, a gantry supporting a spoil hopper at a construction site near Westbourne Park Underground station, used to load rail wagons with excavated waste, collapsed, tipping sideways and causing the adjacent Network Rail line to be closed.[94][95]

On 7 March 2014, Rene Tkacik, a Slovakian construction worker, was killed by a piece of falling concrete while working in a tunnel.[96] In April 2014, The Observer reported details of a leaked internal report, compiled for the Crossrail contractors by an independent safety consultancy. The report was claimed to indicate poor industrial relations over safety issues and that workers were "too scared to report injuries for fear of being sacked".[97]

Compulsory purchase of properties on the routeEdit

The Tottenham Court Road construction site (2009). This included the former site of the London Astoria music venue.

In February 2010, Crossrail was accused of bullying residents whose property lay on the route into selling for less than the market value.[98] A subsequent London Assembly report was highly critical of the insensitive way in which Crossrail had dealt with compulsory purchases and the lack of assistance given to the people and businesses affected.[99] There were also complaints from music fans, as the London Astoria was forced to close.[100]

TUCA – Tunnelling and Underground Construction AcademyEdit

To assist with the skills required for the Crossrail project, Crossrail Ltd opened in 2011 the Tunnelling and Underground Construction Academy in Ilford.[101] The Academy was handed over to Transport for London in 2017, who have sub contracted its management to PROCAT.[102]


The excavation works that took place during the Crossrail project gave archaeologists a unique opportunity to explore the earth underneath London's streets that was previously seen as inaccessible. Crossrail underwent what was described as one of the most extensive archeological programmes ever seen in the UK. Over 100 archaeologists have found tens of thousands of items from 40 sites, spanning 55 million years of London’s history.[103] Many of the items were placed on show at the Museum of London Docklands from February to September 2017. Some of the finds include:[104][105][106]

Testing and service commencementEdit

The ETCS signalling was scheduled to be tested in the Heathrow tunnels over the winter of 2017/18.[109] The south east section of the infrastructure will be energised in January 2018, to be followed by dynamic testing. This dynamic testing will initially take place between Canary Wharf and Abbey Wood, but will be extended to the rest of the central section.[109] The infrastructure will be handed over to TfL in summer 2018, so that they can start trial operations to ensure the reliability of the service.[109]


Once fully opened, the Elizabeth line will run a familiar London Underground-style all-stops service in the central core section, but initial timetable plans suggest the western section will run skip-stop. Initial proposals suggest Acton Main Line and Hanwell served only by Heathrow-bound trains, and with West Ealing only served by trains for Maidenhead and Reading, although the precise timetable will be confirmed later.

Like the outer sections of Thameslink, the Elizabeth line will share platforms and tracks with other services outside the tunnelled sections. Some run by other train companies will continue to call at various stations on the Great Western main line branch, and Heathrow Express will continue to run between Paddington and Heathrow stations.

Approximately half of all Elizabeth line westbound trains, those from Shenfield via Stratford, are expected to terminate at Paddington. The eastern section via Stratford is expected to see an additional four trains per hour (tph) during peak times between Gidea Park and the existing main line Liverpool Street station's high level terminating platforms. Since these trains run over existing above-ground lines from Liverpool Street to Stratford, they will not call at Whitechapel.

The proposed timetable consists of the following services on the Elizabeth line each hour:[110][111]

▲ = Train will call △ = Train may call or skip (to be confirmed)
No. Runs During Western Branches Central Core Eastern Branches
1 Peak                              
2 Peak                              
3 All Day                              
4 All Day                              
5 All Day                                  
6 All Day                                  
7 All Day                                            
8 All Day                                            
9 All Day                                            
10 All Day                                            
11 All Day                                            
12 All Day                                            
13 Peak                                            
14 Peak                                            
15 All Day                                            
16 All Day                                            
17 All Day                                            
18 All Day                                            
19 All Day                                            
20 All Day                                            
21 All Day                                            
22 All Day                                            
23 All Day                                            
24 All Day                                            
25 Peak                                                            
26 Peak                                                            
27 Peak                                                            
28 Peak                                                            


The interim TfL Rail brand being used until December 2018[112]

Prior to the opening of the main tunnels under central London, it is planned to transfer passenger operations on the outer branches of the Crossrail system to TfL for inclusion in the Crossrail concession. This transfer is taking place over several stages from May 2015. Services will begin running through the central tunnel section in 2018, although a full east–west service will not begin until December 2019 due to signalling changes on the Great Western Main Line.[60][113]

During the initial phase of operation, services are to be operated by MTR under the TfL Rail brand. Following the practice adopted during the transfer of former Silverlink services to London Overground in 2007, TfL will carry out a deep clean of stations and trains on the future Elizabeth line route, install new ticket machines and barriers, introduce Oyster card and contactless payment, and ensure all stations are staffed. Existing rolling stock has been rebranded with the TfL Rail identity.[112]

TfL Rail/Elizabeth line services 2015–19
Stage Map Date Notes
0   May 2015 Existing "metro" service between Liverpool Street (main line station) and Shenfield transferred from Abellio Greater Anglia to TfL Rail
1 June 2017 New Class 345 trains phased into service
2   May 2018 Existing service between Paddington (main line station) and Heathrow Terminal 4 transferred from Heathrow Connect, and existing shuttle service between Heathrow Central and Heathrow Terminal 4 transferred from Heathrow Express, both to TfL Rail
3   December 2018 Services between Paddington (Elizabeth line station) and Abbey Wood begin; this section and existing TfL Rail routes rebranded as the Elizabeth line
4   May 2019 Elizabeth line services between Paddington and Shenfield via Liverpool Street (Elizabeth line station) begin
5   December 2019 Full route opens, linking Abbey Wood and Shenfield to Heathrow Airport via Paddington, and existing services between Reading and Paddington transferred to Elizabeth line and extended to Abbey Wood and Shenfield

Journey timesEdit

Journey times[114]
Route Current time Crossrail time
Paddington to Tottenham Court Road 20 4
Paddington to Canary Wharf 34 17
Bond Street to Paddington 15 3
Bond Street to Whitechapel 24 10
Canary Wharf to Liverpool Street 21 6
Canary Wharf to Heathrow 55 39
Whitechapel to Canary Wharf 13 3
Abbey Wood to Heathrow 93 52


Ticketing is intended to be integrated with the other London transport systems, and Oyster pay as you go will be valid. Travelcards will be valid within Greater London with the exception of the Heathrow branch, which will continue to be subject to special fares.[citation needed] Crossrail has often been compared to Paris' RER system due to the length of the central tunnel.[115][116] Crossrail will be integrated with the London Underground and National Rail networks, and it is planned to include it on the standard London Underground Map.

Passenger numbersEdit

Crossrail has predicted annual passenger numbers of 200 million from its opening in late 2018; this is expected to relieve pressure on London Underground's lines, especially the Central line.[117] Farringdon is expected to become one of the busiest stations in the UK, due to it being the key interchange station with the North–South Thameslink route.[118] Once Crossrail is fully open, TfL expects to collect around £700–800 million in fares annually.[119]


New stationsEdit


The opening of the new Crossrail station will reduce the journey time from Woolwich to Canary Wharf, Bond Street and Heathrow stations to just 8, 21, and 47 minutes respectively.[120] The construction of a station at Woolwich was not proposed as part of the original Crossrail route. However, the House of Commons Select Committee recognised its inclusion in March 2007.[120] When Crossrail becomes operational in 2018, the new station located on the south-east section of the route will see up to 12 trains an hour. It will run during peak hours, connecting south-east London and the Royal Docks with Canary Wharf, central London and beyond.[120]

The Woolwich station is being built on the south-east portion of the Crossrail line that ends at Abbey Wood. The Woolwich redevelopment site at Royal Arsenal is a waterside housing and retail development area adjacent to the Woolwich station. It is spread across approximately 30 hectares of land and is being developed by Berkeley Homes.[120] The site is being developed with the construction of approximately 2,517 new homes, in addition to the 1,248 homes already built.[121] The area also includes a new heritage quarter along with the Greenwich Heritage Centre and Royal Artillery Museum, as well as infrastructural developments such as retail stores, restaurants and cafés, offices, hotels and a cinema.[121]

Old Oak CommonEdit

The planned site for the Old Oak Common High Speed 2 / Crossrail interchange

As part of the former Labour government's plans for the High Speed 2 rail link from London to Birmingham, a Crossrail-High Speed 2 interchange would be built at Old Oak Common (between Paddington and Acton Main Line stations). This would be built as part of High Speed 2 (which would start construction, under Labour's plans, in 2017), so would not be built in the first phase of Crossrail. It would provide interchange to other mainline and TfL lines. The succeeding Conservative-Liberal Democrat government adopted that proposal in the plans it put forward for public consultation. This means it is likely to go forward as part of High Speed 2, potentially giving Crossrail an interchange with High Speed 2, the Great Western Main Line (GWML), Central line and London Overground services running through the area.[122]

Silvertown (London City Airport)Edit

London City Airport has proposed the re-opening of Silvertown railway station, in order to create an interchange between the rail line and the airport.[123] The self-funded £50m station plan is supported 'in principle' by the London Borough of Newham.[124] Provisions for re-opening of the station were made in 2012 by Crossrail.[125] However, it is alleged by the airport that Transport for London is hostile to the idea of a station on the site, a claim disputed by TfL.[126]


Outline map of the possible future Crossrail extensions as recommended in the 2011 RUS[127]

To ReadingEdit

According to the original plans, the western terminus of Crossrail was planned to be Maidenhead. Various commentators advocated an extension of the route further west as far as Reading, especially as it was seen as complementary to the Great Western Electrification project which was announced in July 2009.[128] A Reading terminus was also recommended by Network Rail's 2011 Route Utilisation Strategy.[129]

The UK Government and Transport for London evaluated the option of extending to Reading[130] and in March 2014 it was announced that the extension from Maidenhead to Reading would form part of the core Crossrail network from the outset.[28][29][34]

The Labour council in Reading supported an extension to Reading[131] but the Conservative MP for Reading East, Rob Wilson, expressed concerns that Crossrail trains (which will call at every station) will actually be slower than the present Reading-Paddington service. According to Wilson, "We need the right Crossrail, not any Crossrail".[132] Most existing fast services between Reading and Paddington will remain after the introduction of Crossrail, however, as there are only paths for the additional two services per hour which the latter will provide.

To the West Coast Main LineEdit

Network Rail's July 2011 London & South East Route Utilisation Strategy (RUS) recommended diverting West Coast Main Line (WCML) services from stations between London and Milton Keynes Central away from Euston, to Crossrail via Old Oak Common, to free up capacity at Euston for High Speed 2. This would provide a direct service from the WCML to the Shenfield, Canary Wharf and Abbey Wood, release London Underground capacity at Euston, make better use of Crossrail's capacity west of Paddington, and improve access to Heathrow Airport from the north.[133] Under this scheme, all Crossrail trains would continue west of Paddington, instead of some of them terminating there. They would serve Heathrow Airport (10 tph), stations to Maidenhead and Reading (6 tph), and stations to Milton Keynes Central (8 tph).[134]

In August 2014, a statement by the transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin indicated that the government was actively evaluating the extension of Crossrail as far as Tring, with potential Crossrail stops at Wembley Central, Harrow & Wealdstone, Bushey, Watford Junction, Kings Langley, Apsley, Hemel Hempstead and Berkhamsted. The extension would relieve some pressure from London Underground and London Euston station while also increasing connectivity. Conditions to the extension are that any extra services would not affect the planned service pattern for confirmed routes, as well as affordability.[135][136] This proposal was subsequently shelved in August 2016 due to "poor overall value for money to the taxpayer".[137]

To Gravesend and Hoo JunctionEdit

The route to Gravesend has been safeguarded by the Department for Transport, although it was made clear that as at February 2008 there was no plan to extend Crossrail beyond the then-current scheme.[138] The following stations are on the protected route extension to Gravesend: Belvedere, Erith, Slade Green, Dartford, Stone Crossing, Greenhithe for Bluewater, Swanscombe, Northfleet, and Gravesend.[139] In January 2018, it was revealed that Sadiq Khan had included an extension of Crossrail to Ebbsfleet as part of a transport plan between 2021 and 2041. TfL stated that they were considering an extension to Ebbsfleet.[140][141]

Heathrow ExpressEdit

The RUS also proposes integrating Heathrow Express services from Heathrow Terminal 5 into Crossrail to relieve the GWML and reduce the need for passengers to change at Paddington.[142]

New linesEdit

Crossrail 2 (Chelsea–Hackney)Edit

Crossrail 2 is a proposed rail route in South East England, running from nine stations in Surrey to three in Hertfordshire providing a new rail link across London on the Crossrail network. It would connect the South Western Main Line to the West Anglia Main Line, via Victoria and Kings Cross St Pancras, intended to alleviate severe overcrowding that would otherwise occur on commuter rail routes into Central London by the 2030s. It would interchange with Crossrail 1 at Tottenham Court Road, the only interchange between the two lines.

Management and franchiseEdit

Crossrail is being built by Crossrail Ltd, jointly owned by Transport for London and the Department for Transport until December 2008, when full ownership was transferred to TfL. Crossrail has a £15.9 billion funding package in place[143] for the construction of the line. Although the branch lines to the west and to Shenfield will still be owned by Network Rail, the tunnel will be owned and operated by TfL.[144]

On 18 July 2014, TfL London Rail said that MTR Corp had won the concession to operate the services for eight years, with an option for two more years.[3] The concession will be similar to London Overground.[145][non-primary source needed] It is planned to initially let the franchise for eight years from 2015,[3] taking over control of Shenfield metro services from Abellio Greater Anglia in May 2015,[3] and Reading / Heathrow services from Great Western Railway in 2018.[113]

In anticipation of an May 2015 transfer of Shenfield to Liverpool Street services from the Greater Anglia franchise to Crossrail, the invitation to tender for the 2012–2013 franchise required the new rail operator to set up a separate "Crossrail Business Unit" for those services before the end of 2012. This unit was to allow transfer of services to the new Crossrail Train Operating Concession (CTOC) operator during the next franchise.[144][146]

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External linksEdit

Preceded by
Abellio Greater Anglia
Shenfield Metro services
Operator of MTR Crossrail
Preceded by
Great Western Railway
Maidenhead and Reading services
Preceded by
Heathrow Connect