The Elizabeth Line – Expanding the London Underground

The secret world of the Savants is based in an abandoned Ghost station on the London Underground. So, it’s fascinating to see the progress of a new line being added to an ancient network of tunnels. It’s called The Elizabeth line and new stations, tracks and tunnels are being constructed right beneath the feet of unsuspecting tourists.

Image: Paul Daniels /

London is one of the busiest cities in the world, and its high number of daily commuters makes an efficient transportation system necessary. This has resulted in the city’s decision to create a new underground line, and construction is currently underway. Originally called the Crossrail, it has been renamed The Elizabeth Line, in honour of Queen Elizabeth II. This high-speed rail service is expected to increase the capacity of the London public transportation system, and help to decrease rush hour waiting time. In 2008, full ownership of the line was transferred to TfL (Transport for London), along with a £15.9 billion funding package for its construction.

Image: I Wei Huang /

Marked with the familiar underground roundel in purple with a blue bar, Elizabeth Line will stretch over 60 miles from Reading and Heathrow in the west, through central London, and continue on to Abbey Wood and Shenfield in the east. It has been designed to stop at 40 stations on each journey, 10 of which have been newly built and 30 recently upgraded. To facilitate easy navigation, all the newly built stations will have step-free access from street to platform, marked routes and signs which are easy to follow. These new stations include Woolwich, Old Oak Common and Silvertown as well as an extension to Reading, West Coast Main Line, Gravesend and Heathrow Express.

Other underground lines run directly through Central London, and The Elizabeth Line will be no exception. These central stations are the first stage of the planned opening and will start transporting passengers in December 2018, with three separate services: Paddington to Abbey Wood, Paddington to Heathrow and Liverpool Street to Shenfield. The entire line will be fully functional within a year and is expected to dramatically improve access at key locations along the route. The new line is expected to carry in excess of 1/2 a million passengers per day, with approximately 24 trains running each hour, in both directions, through the central London tunnels. The routes which are covered will be added to the current ‘tube’ map, as a light purple line.

The trains that will operate along the route are new ‘Class 345’ trains. 65 of these have been secured, each of which is 200m long with the capacity to carry up to 1500 passengers. They are also equipped with walk-through passages, air-conditioning, CCTV, information about next stops and 4 spaces dedicated to wheel chairs. There will also be three sets of double doors along each carriage, facilitating quicker and easier boarding and departure. Intelligent lighting and temperature control will generate electricity back into the supply, and is expected to use up to 30% less than current trains. The overall result of the Elizabeth line is expected to improve London’s transport system dramatically, and commuters anxiously await its inception.


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