London’s new $25bn railway can house the station’s tallest skyscraper

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.

Elizabeth line outside Paddington station.

Kate Duffy/Insider


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.

Elizabeth Line in London

Elizabeth line at Paddington station.

Kate Duffy/Insider


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.

Elizabeth Line in London

London Transport Commissioner Andy Bryford stands on the left next to Crossrail CEO Mark Wild who gives a speech.

Kate Duffy/Insider


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.

Elizabeth Line in London

Elizabeth line station ceiling at Paddington station.

Kate Duffy/Insider


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.

Elizabeth Line in London

Tunnel to the Elizabeth line at Paddington station.

Kate Duffy/Insider


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.

Elizabeth Line in London

Elizabeth line at Paddington station.

Kate Duffy/Insider


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.

Elizabeth Line in London

Elizabeth Line train at Paddington Station.

Kate Duffy/Insider


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.

Elizabeth Line in London

Elizabeth line train.

Kate Duffy/Insider


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.

Elizabeth Line in London

Elizabeth Line train at Paddington station.

Kate Duffy/Insider


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.

Elizabeth Line in London

Driver’s view inside the Elizabeth Line tunnel.

Kate Duffy/Insider


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.

A tunnel on the Elizabeth line.

A tunnel on the Elizabeth line.

Dan Kitwood/Getty Images.


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 in London

Inside the Elizabeth Line train.

Kate Duffy/Insider


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.

The route of the Elizabeth line.

The route of the Elizabeth line.

Transport to London.


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.

Elizabeth Line in London

The eastbound route of the Elizabeth Line.

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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.

Elizabeth Line in London

Elizabeth line at Canary Wharf.

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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.

The Elizabeth Line train in an underground tunnel.

The Elizabeth Line train in an underground tunnel.

Transport for London


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.

An Elizabeth Line train.

An Elizabeth Line train.

Transport for London


During construction, nearly 100 million liters of water were pumped out of the station’s caisson, enough to fill 40 Olympic swimming pools…

The line has been under construction for 13 years.

The line has been under construction for 13 years.

Transport to London.


… 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.

The line has been under construction for 13 years.

The line has been under construction for 13 years.

Transport to London.


Bryford said the line was “overdue and over budget” but promised “no further slip-ups”.

Elizabeth Line in London

Train on the Elizabeth line.

Kate Duffy/Insider


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