I went for an exclusive tour around two of the central stations on the Elizabeth line, as well as a train tour. The first station I looked at was at Paddington, one of London’s main stations which opened in 1854.
Paddington station on the Elizabeth Line is so tall that London’s tallest skyscraper, the Shard, could fit inside if laid flat, Crossrail CEO Mark Wild said during visit.
Wild said the Elizabeth Line was originally planned 23 years ago and construction took 13 years. After missing several deadlines for its opening, Wild said he expects it to debut by the end of June this year.
Transport for London Andy Bryford said.” data-slide=”” data-e2e-name=”slide-5″>
Some stations have artistic details inside. For example, Paddington Station had clouds printed on the glass ceiling, representing all types of clouds in the sky, said London Transport Commissioner Andy Bryford.
It cost £1 million ($1.3 billion) per meter to build this tunnel between the Elizabeth line and the Bakerloo line at Paddington station, Wild said.
Before the visit, there was a problem in the radio system which forced the trains to stop for two hours. Wild said there are still “problems and quirks that need to be resolved” with the railroad.
The tunnels are separated from the platform by glass panels that open when a train arrives. This separates the cooler airflow in the tunnels from the air in the station. The trains are also air-conditioned, unlike most London Tubes. More than 1,500 kilometers of cables supply the new line with ventilation, electricity and lighting, according to Crossrail’s website.
Compared to the London Underground tubes and other trains I’ve taken in the UK, the Elizabeth line trains were bright and spacious. A member of TfL staff told me the carriages were 1.5 times bigger than the city’s underground trains.
I was able to have a conversation with other people on the train as it wasn’t noisy like other underground transit systems. It was also a smooth ride, unlike other rides I’ve taken on the subway, which are often bumpy.
I got a good view from the driver’s cabin of the trip through the tunnels, which are up to 40 meters underground, Wild said.
Eight tunnel boring machines – each weighing 1,000 tonnes – have been used to create 42km of new rail tunnels under London, according to Crossrail. Twenty-person “tunnel gangs” worked in shifts to create the winding roads between 2012 and 2015, according to the company’s website.
The Elizabeth Line will serve around 250 million passengers each year, stopping at 41 stations along the full route – 10 are newly built and 30 are refurbishments of existing stations.
Elizabeth Line trains depart from towns to the east of London, through the heart of the city and on to suburban centers to the west. During the tests, 12 trains arrived at each station every hour.
My journey on one section of the railway – from Paddington to Canary Wharf – took around 18 minutes. The same journey using the existing rail network would take around 30 minutes, according to the Citymapper navigation app.
A journey from the financial center of Canary Wharf to Heathrow Airport takes 38 minutes on the Elizabeth line, at the price of a normal tube fare. According to Citymapper, the trip takes about an hour.
A proposal to create a train to cross London from east to west was first floated in 1830, but took almost 200 years to come to fruition.
Construction of the line has reached £18.9 billion ($25 billion), but Bryford said £150 million ($196 million) was still needed to complete the project. Crossrail Ltd is still considering how to fund the additional costs, he said.
During construction, nearly 100 million liters of water were pumped out of the station’s caisson, enough to fill 40 Olympic swimming pools…
… A woolly mammoth jaw fragment and a piece of amber estimated to be around 55 million years old were also discovered and handed over to the Natural History Museum in London.
Bryford said the line was “overdue and over budget” but promised “no further slip-ups”.