One of London’s most eagerly anticipated transport projects – the £19 billion (US$24 billion) Elizabeth line – opened for business today, with passengers queuing through the night to be first on the new trains.
The service promises to drastically cut journey times across London and is the largest increase in the city’s rail capacity for over half a century.
Originally set to open in 2018, the project – initially named Crossrail – has been plagued by delays and a £4 billion overspend.
“Today is an historic day as the Elizabeth line opens to passengers,” said London Mayor Sadiq Khan.
“This brand new line is the most significant addition to our transport network in decades. It will add billions to our economy and is set to serve up to 200 million passengers each year.
“I’m sure passengers will enjoy the modern trains, beautiful step-free stations and the reduced journey times across the capital and the South East.”
The new service will connect Paddington in west London with Abbey Wood in the southeast, with stops at key stations including the financial district of Canary Wharf.
When the full line opens later this year, the 100-kilometre network will also connect outer commuter towns, bringing another 1.5 million people within 45 minutes of central London and Heathrow, the UK’s main international airport.
Emma Gibson, CEO of consumer group London TravelWatch, said: “The new Elizabeth Line is a great addition to London’s transport system and will make some journeys from east to west in the capital much quicker than taking the Tube.
“Every station pretty much has step-free access meaning that more people can use it, and that’s critically important for disabled Londoners to be able to get around town.
“The walk through carriages are something that women have told us they like as it improves their sense of safety when travelling.”
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