TfL Rail

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TfL Rail is the concession of 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 in 2021. 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
LocaleGreater London, Berkshire and Essex
Transit typeSuburban/Commuter rail
Rapid transit[1]
Number of lines2
Number of stations32 (22 managed) Edit this at Wikidata
Began operation31 May 2015
Operator(s)MTR Corporation
Reporting marksXR
System length36 miles 54 chains (59.0 km)
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)
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 in 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 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 and Harlington.[11]

In December 2019, Class 345 trains began running between Paddington and Reading,[12] and are planned to run between Paddington and Heathrow in early 2020.[12]

The line will be renamed the Elizabeth line when the central section opens in March 2021, with the current branches connecting up with the core in later 2021.[13]


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 Crossrail 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).


Stations served or managed by TfL Rail[14]
Station Zone Local authority Interchanges Managed by
Abbey Wood[a] 4 Greenwich NR - - - TfL Rail
Acton Main Line 3 Ealing - - - - TfL Rail
Burnham - Slough - - - - TfL Rail
Brentwood 9 Brentwood - - - - TfL Rail
Chadwell Heath 5 Redbridge - - - - TfL Rail
Ealing Broadway 3 Ealing NR LU - - TfL Rail
Forest Gate 3 Newham - - - - TfL Rail
Gidea Park 6 Havering - - - - TfL Rail
Goodmayes 4 Redbridge - - - - TfL Rail
Hanwell 4 Ealing - - - - TfL Rail
Harold Wood 6 Havering - - - - TfL Rail
Hayes & Harlington 5 Hillingdon NR - - - TfL Rail
Heathrow Terminals 2 & 3
6 Hillingdon NR LU - - Heathrow Express
Heathrow Terminal 4 6 Hillingdon - LU - - Heathrow Express
Ilford 4 Redbridge - - - - TfL Rail
Iver - South Bucks - - - - TfL Rail
Langley - Slough - - - - TfL Rail
Liverpool Street 1 City of London NR LU LO - Network Rail
Paddington 1 City of Westminster NR LU - - Network Rail
Maidenhead - Windsor and Maidenhead NR - - - GWR
Manor Park 3/4 Newham - - - - TfL Rail
Maryland 3 Newham - - - - TfL Rail
Reading - Reading NR - - - Network Rail
Romford 6 Havering NR - LO - TfL Rail
Seven Kings 4 Redbridge - - - - TfL Rail
Shenfield C Brentwood NR - - - Greater Anglia
Slough - Slough NR - - - GWR
Southall 4 Ealing - - - - TfL Rail
Stratford 2/3 Newham NR LU LO DLR TfL
Taplow - South Bucks - - - - TfL Rail
Twyford - Wokingham NR - - - GWR
West Drayton 6 Hillingdon NR - - - TfL Rail
West Ealing 3 Ealing NR - - - TfL Rail
  1. ^ TfL Rail does not provide any services at Abbey Wood


The typical Monday–Saturday off-peak service pattern is:

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[15]
During peak times, service frequency is increased and calling patterns are varied, with some stations omitted on certain services.
On Sundays there are typically 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[16]
During peak times, service frequency increases up to 4 trains per hour.
Paddington to Hayes & Harlington 2 Acton Main Line, Ealing Broadway, West Ealing, Southall[17]
Paddington to Heathrow Terminal 4 2 Ealing Broadway, West Ealing, Hanwell, Southall, Hayes & Harlington, Heathrow Terminals 2 & 3[17]
Skips West Ealing and Hanwell on Sundays
Heathrow Terminals 2 & 3 to Heathrow Terminal 4 2 shuttle

Rolling stockEdit

 Class Image Type  Top speed  Carriages  Number  Routes operated  Built  Years in operation
 mph   km/h 
Class 315   EMU 75 120 4 24 Liverpool Street - Shenfield 1980–81 May 2015–present
Class 345 Aventra   90 145 7 or 9 70 Liverpool Street - Shenfield
Paddington - Hayes & Harlington
Paddington - Reading
2015–19 June 2017–present
Class 360 Desiro  
100 160 5 5 Paddington - Heathrow Terminal 4 2002-05 May 2018–present

Shenfield branchEdit

A Class 315 and Class 345 at Liverpool Street

The eastern branch of TfL Rail operates with a fleet of new Class 345 trains.[18][19]

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 while the Class 345 units will initially supplement this with a half-hourly (2tph) service to Hayes & Harlington, a service formerly operated by Great Western Railway Class 387 units.[20] Class 345 trains will run on the route from 2020.

Reading branchEdit

On 26 September 2019, TfL Rail announced that it would take over the Paddington to Reading stopping services on 15 December 2019,[21] 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.[22]


  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. ^ a b
  13. ^ "Our Plan to Complete the Elizabeth Line". Crossrail. Retrieved 22 July 2019.
  14. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 May 2015. Retrieved 28 May 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  15. ^ "Liverpool Street to Shenfield (TfL Rail)" (PDF). Transport for London. Retrieved 27 May 2019.
  16. ^ "Paddington to Heathrow Airport/Reading (TfL Rail)" (PDF). Transport for London. Retrieved 26 October 2019.
  17. ^ a b "Paddington to Heathrow Airport (TfL Rail)" (PDF). Transport for London. Retrieved 27 May 2019.
  18. ^ Crossrail rolling stock and depot contract to be awarded to Bombardier Department for Transport 6 February 2014
  19. ^ Bombardier wins Crossrail train contract Railway Gazette 6 February 2014
  20. ^ "Crossrail: The Western Approach". London Reconnections.
  21. ^ Matters, Transport for London | Every Journey. "TfL Rail to operate services to Reading from 15 December". Transport for London. Retrieved 27 November 2019.
  22. ^ 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 – 2019
Preceded by
Great Western Railway
Greater Western franchise
15 December 2019
Preceded by
Heathrow Connect
Heathrow Airport Holdings & Great Western Railway
20 May 2018