TfL Rail

TfL Rail is the concession operating commuter services on two separate railway lines in London and its environs whilst the planned link-up between these lines is being constructed. This will form part of the Crossrail service when it opens. At that time, the TfL Rail name will be retired and the services will become operated by Crossrail, with the route named the Elizabeth line.[2][3][4] The Elizabeth line was initially due to open in December 2018.

TfL Rail
TFL Rail roundel.svg
Unit 345007 at Shenfield 7th July 2017 06.jpg
A TfL Rail Class 345 at Shenfield
OwnerTransport for London
Transit type
Number of lines2
Number of stations32 (22 managed) Edit this at Wikidata
Began operation31 May 2015; 5 years ago (2015-05-31)
Operator(s)MTR Corporation
Reporting marksXR
System length36 miles 54 chains (59.0 km)
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Electrification25 kV AC overhead lines
TfL Rail
Miles from Liverpool Street
Shenfield National Rail
Harold Wood
Gidea Park
Romford London Overground National Rail
Chadwell Heath
Seven Kings
Manor Park
Forest Gate
Stratford Central line (London Underground) Jubilee Line Docklands Light Railway London Overground National Rail
Pudding Mill Lane portal
Liverpool Street Central line (London Underground) Circle line (London Underground) Hammersmith & City Line Metropolitan Line London Overground National Rail
Under construction
Paddington Bakerloo Line Circle line (London Underground) District Line Hammersmith & City Line National Rail
Royal Oak portal
Acton Main Line
Ealing Broadway Central line (London Underground) District Line National Rail
West Ealing National Rail
Southall National Rail
Hayes & Harlington National Rail
Heathrow junction
Heathrow Terminals 2 & 3 Piccadilly Line National Rail Airport interchange
Heathrow Terminal 4 Piccadilly Line Airport interchange
West Drayton National Rail
Greater London
Slough National Rail
Maidenhead National Rail
Twyford National Rail
Reading National Rail
Miles from Paddington

TfL Rail was introduced on 31 May 2015 when it took control from Abellio Greater Anglia of the commuter "metro" service between Liverpool Street in central London and Shenfield in Essex. The branch comprises the first 14 stations on the Great Eastern Main Line, with interchange at Shenfield for medium- and long-distance services beyond to East Anglia. TfL Rail has also taken over operation of some services from Paddington to Heathrow Airport and Reading. Services are operated by MTR Corporation under contract to Transport for London (TfL). Between May 2016 and May 2017, TfL Rail carried over 47 million passengers on the Shenfield branch.[5]


In June 2013 TfL announced that Arriva, MTR Corporation, Keolis/Go-Ahead Group and National Express had been shortlisted to bid for the concession to operate Crossrail, which was under construction.[6][7]

In July 2014 TfL awarded the contract to Hong Kong's MTR, for a duration of eight years with an option to extend by an additional two years.[8][9]

MTR Corporation (Crossrail) Ltd was created as a new train operating company and took control of the "metro" service between Liverpool Street and Shenfield from the previous operator, Abellio Greater Anglia, on 31 May 2015.[10] The existing Class 315 trains were re-painted in TfL Rail livery, and appropriate branding, advertising and message boards were added at the 14 stations along the line. Every station is staffed, from the first train to the last of the day. In June 2017, Class 345 trains began running between Liverpool Street and Shenfield.[11]

In May 2018 TfL Rail took over operation of the Heathrow Connect service between Paddington and Heathrow, as well as some GWR services between Paddington and Hayes & Harlington.[12]

In December 2019, TfL Rail took over operation of the Great Western Railway stopping services between Paddington and Reading. In November 2019, Class 345 trains began running between Paddington and Reading, as a soft launch of the service.[13][14]

In July 2020, Class 345 trains began running between Paddington and Heathrow.[15]

The line will be renamed the Elizabeth line when the central section opens, with the current branches connecting up with the core later.[16]


The eastern branch of TfL Rail runs over the existing 20 miles 16 chains (32.5 km) of track on the Great Eastern Main Line between Liverpool Street and Shenfield. The future Elizabeth line route will retain the use of most of this track, except the portion between Liverpool Street and Stratford, where trains will use new tunnels to connect to the central section of the route.

The western branches operate over part of the Great Western Main Line and the Heathrow tunnel between Paddington and Heathrow for 16 miles 38 chains (26.5 km), and entirely over the Great Western Main Line between Paddington and Reading for 36 miles (58 km). The future Elizabeth line route will retain the use of most of this track, except the portion between Paddington and Acton Main Line, where trains will use new tunnels to connect to the central section of the route.


Stations served or managed by TfL Rail[17]
Station Image Dates Location
Opened Managed from Served from Zone Local authority
Reading   30 March 1840 Managed by Network Rail 15 December 2019 N/A[a] Reading
Twyford   1 July 1839 Managed by Great Western Railway Wokingham
Maidenhead   1 November 1871 Windsor and Maidenhead
Taplow   1 September 1872 May 2018 Buckinghamshire
Burnham   1 July 1899 Slough
Slough   8 September 1884 Managed by Great Western Railway
Langley   1845 May 2018
Iver   1 December 1924 Buckinghamshire
West Drayton   4 June 1838 6 Hillingdon
Heathrow Terminal 5[b]   27 March 2008 Managed by Heathrow Express Diversions only[b]
Heathrow Terminal 4   23 June 1998 May 2018
Heathrow Terminals 2 & 3  
Hayes & Harlington   1864 or 1868 May 2018 5
Southall   1 May 1839 4 Ealing
Hanwell   1 December 1838
West Ealing   4 June 1838 3
Ealing Broadway   1 December 1838
Acton Main Line   1 February 1868
Paddington   4 June 1838 Managed by Network Rail 1 City of Westminster
Liverpool Street   2 October 1874 31 May 2015 City of London
Stratford   20 June 1839 Managed by TfL 2/3 Newham
Maryland   6 January 1873 31 May 2015 3
Forest Gate   1840
Manor Park   6 January 1873 3/4
Ilford   20 June 1839 4 Redbridge
Seven Kings   1 March 1899
Goodmayes   8 February 1901
Chadwell Heath   11 January 1864 5
Romford   1844 6 Havering
Gidea Park   1 December 1910
Harold Wood   1 December 1868
Brentwood   1 July 1840 9 Brentwood
Shenfield   29 March 1843 Managed by Greater Anglia C
Abbey Wood   30 July 1849 23 October 2017 Not served by TfL Rail[c] 4 Greenwich
  1. ^ Stations between Iver and Reading only accept contactless Pay-as-you-go and are therefore not in the Oyster zones
  2. ^ a b Heathrow Terminal 5 is not officially served by TfL Rail, but services divert to this station when Heathrow Terminal 4 is closed, for example during the COVID-19 period
  3. ^ TfL Rail does not provide any services at Abbey Wood, but the Elizabeth Line, its successor service, will do.


As of May 2020, the timetabled Monday–Saturday off-peak service pattern is [18]:

Shenfield branch
Route tph Calling at Stock
Liverpool Street to Shenfield 6 Stratford, Maryland, Forest Gate, Manor Park, Ilford, Seven Kings, Goodmayes, Chadwell Heath, Romford, Gidea Park, Harold Wood, Brentwood
During peak times, service frequency is doubled with supplementary services terminating at Gidea Park and calling patterns are varied, with some stations omitted on certain services.
On Sundays frequency is reduced to 4 trains per hour between Liverpool Street and Shenfield.
Reading and Heathrow branches
Route tph Calling at Stock
Paddington to Reading 2 Ealing Broadway, Southall, Hayes & Harlington, West Drayton, Iver, Langley, Slough, Burnham, Taplow, Maidenhead, Twyford
During peak times, service frequency increases up to 4 trains per hour.
Paddington to Heathrow Terminal 4[a] 4 Acton Main Line (2tph), Ealing Broadway, West Ealing, Hanwell, Southall, Hayes & Harlington, Heathrow Terminals 2 & 3
  1. ^ During the COVID-19 pandemic, Heathrow Terminal 4 station has been closed with the Paddington service diverted to Heathrow Terminal 5 and the shuttle cancelled

Rolling stockEdit

 Class Image Type  Top speed  Carriages  Number  Routes operated  Built  Years in operation
 mph   km/h 
Class 315   EMU 75 120 4 19 Liverpool StreetShenfield 1980–81 May 2015–present
Class 345 Aventra   90 145 7 or 9 70

Liverpool StreetShenfield


PaddingtonHeathrow Terminal 4

2015–19 June 2017–present
Class 360 Desiro   100 160 5 5 PaddingtonHeathrow Terminal 4 2002-05 May 2018–August 2020

Shenfield branchEdit

A Class 315 and Class 345 at Liverpool Street

TfL Rail took over operations from Abellio Greater Anglia on 31 May 2015.[19] TfL Rail subsequently introduced a fleet of new Class 345 trains.[20][21] On 22 June 2017, Class 345 trains entered passenger service on the Shenfield branch.[22]

The Class 315 trains will continue to be maintained at the existing Ilford depot, but the Class 345 trains will be maintained at Old Oak Common and Ilford depots.

Heathrow branchEdit

TfL Rail inherited five Class 360 units from Heathrow Connect when it took over operations on 20 May 2018. These trains will be used to operate the existing half-hourly (2tph) service to Heathrow.[23] On 30 July 2020, Class 345 trains entered passenger service on the Heathrow branch.[15]

Reading branchEdit

On 26 September 2019, TfL Rail announced that it would take over the Paddington to Reading stopping services on 15 December 2019,[24] using Class 345 trains in place of the Class 387 and Class 165 trains used by Great Western Railway. Before that, on 25 November 2019 six GWR services a day started to operate using Class 345 trains, operated by TfL, to get drivers ready and stock in place for the main 15 December switch over.[25]


  1. ^ "TfL Rail: What we do". Transport for London. Archived from the original on 25 May 2015.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  2. ^ "MTR Crossrail - Crossrail Rolling Stock".
  3. ^ Smith, Howard. "Crossrail – Moving to the Operating Railway Rail and Underground Panel 12 February 2015" (PDF). 12 February 2015. Transport for London. Archived (PDF) from the original on 13 February 2015. Retrieved 13 February 2015.
  4. ^ Jobson, Robert (23 February 2016). "Crossrail named the Elizabeth line: Royal title unveiled as the Queen visits Bond Street station". Evening Standard. Retrieved 23 February 2016.
  5. ^ "TfL Rail". Transport for London. Retrieved 3 June 2017.
  6. ^ TfL announces shortlist of bidders to run Crossrail services Crossrail 25 June 2013
  7. ^ Crossrail shortlist reveals four contenders Rail News 25 June 2013
  8. ^ TfL announces MTR to run Crossrail services Crossrail 18 July 2014
  9. ^ MTR Corporation wins £1.4 billion contract to run Crossrail services Rail Technology Magazine 18 July 2014
  10. ^ Blackburn, Ralph (25 May 2015). "TfL to take over Abellio Greater Anglia lines from May 31". Romford Recorder. Retrieved 11 December 2019.
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^ a b "First '345' reaches Heathrow". Key Modern Railways. 30 July 2020.
  16. ^ "Our Plan to Complete the Elizabeth Line". Crossrail. Retrieved 22 July 2019.
  17. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 May 2015. Retrieved 28 May 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  18. ^ "TfL Rail timetables". Transport for London. Retrieved 12 July 2020.
  19. ^ "Passengers set to benefit as key commuter rail services transfer to TfL". Transport for London. 21 May 2015.
  20. ^ Crossrail rolling stock and depot contract to be awarded to Bombardier Department for Transport 6 February 2014
  21. ^ Bombardier wins Crossrail train contract Railway Gazette 6 February 2014
  22. ^ "The future of cross-London travel arrives". Transport for London. 22 June 2017.
  23. ^ "Crossrail: The Western Approach". London Reconnections.
  24. ^ "TfL Rail to operate services to Reading from 15 December". Transport for London. Retrieved 27 November 2019.
  25. ^ Rosehill, Harry (26 November 2019). "Crossrail Trains Have Started Running To Reading...Early!". Londonist. Retrieved 29 December 2019.

External linksEdit

Preceded by
Abellio Greater Anglia
East Anglia franchise
31 May 2015
Operator of Crossrail concession
2015 –
Preceded by
Great Western Railway
Greater Western franchise
15 December 2019
Preceded by
Heathrow Connect
Heathrow Airport Holdings & Great Western Railway
20 May 2018