THERE’S light at the end of the tunnel for Londoners patiently waiting for the opening of the keenly anticipated Elizabeth line, previously known as Crossrail.
The first new 200-metre long trains built especially for the project are due to begin running in May but when will the new line finally open?
What is the Elizabeth Line? Is it the same as Crossrail?
The Elizabeth line is the name of the new London transport service born out of the highly ambitious Crossrail construction project.
When fully completed the high-frequency service train will connect towns in Berkshire and Buckinghamshire to Essex and south-east London, via the centre of the capital.
The new service is designed to ease pressure on the existing Underground network, particularly the busy Central and District lines, but also the Jubilee link to Heathrow Airport. It will take 20min off the journey time from central London to Heathrow.
The mega-expensive Crossrail project has caused heavy disruption in central London, particularly around Tottenham Court Road and Oxford Street.
The line itself has been officially named after Queen Elizabeth II, who attended a special ceremony in February 2016.
It’s actually the second line to be dedicated to her majesty – the Jubilee line was named after the Queen’s Silver Jubilee, commemorating her 25th year on the throne in 1977.
When will the Elizabeth line open?
In December 2018, the Elizabeth line opens between Paddington and Abbey Wood, Liverpool Street to Shenfield, Paddington Main Line to Heathrow Terminal 4.
This month new Crossrail trains will run on a TFL Rail line from Liverpool Street to Shenfield in Essex in the first stage of the project to be completed.
But this stretch of railway won’t be connected to the Elizabeth line for two years.
The entire line will be completed in May 2019 when the section west of Paddington opens, running to Heathrow Airport and Reading.
Where will the Elizabeth line run?
As the map above shows, once fully completed the Elizabeth line will stretch all the way from Reading in Berkshire, to Shenfield, a commuter suburb of Brentwood in Essex.
Branches will run to Heathrow in the west, and Abbey Wood, on the border of Greenwich and Bexley in south-east London.
In total, it covers 73 miles (118km) of track.
Is the Elizabeth line an Underground service?
Yes and no. The service is to be run by London Underground, but the trains are modern, spacious and air-conditioned, similar to new Thameslink and Overground trains.
Most of the line will run above ground, but a 13-mile stretch runs under central London.
The Elizabeth line will appear on the Underground map as a purple and white line, similar to DLR (turquoise and white) and Overground (orange and white).
Which Tube stations does the Elizabeth stop at?
Convenience and connectivity are key to the project, so there will be many Tube interchanges, especially in central London.
They are (from west to east): Heathrow, Ealing Broadway, Paddington, Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road, Farringdon, Liverpool Street, Whitechapel, Stratford and Canary Wharf.
There’s also Custom House on the DLR, and Romford on the Overground.
How regular will the Elizabeth Line service be?
24 trains per hour will run through the central section at peak – and that’s in each direction.
Each train will have nine carriages and be capable of carrying up to 1,500 passengers.
However, the stations have been designed to accommodate longer trains if capacity needs to be increased.
What are the Elizabeth line trains like?
The £14billion project is boasting all the mod-cons with users being treated to Wi-Fi and a solid 4G connection.
The carriages have also been designed with generous window space and also space for wheelchair users.
Responding to tales of woe from commuters about packed trains, the carriages will also be equipped with air-conditioned climate control to keep them cool in summer.
The trains are also expected to be more efficient and use up to 30 per cent less energy.
The carriages were subject to a number of tests which were carried out at the Rail Tec Arsenal Centre in Vienna, Austria in December.
The tests checked the he train’s heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system, windscreen wipers and demister, train horns and traction motors.
For three weeks the carriages were subjected to hot, cold, windy and foggy weather to ensure they can function in extreme weather conditions.
They’re now in the final stages of testing in London, with commuters reporting sightings of the trains at Liverpool Street, Seven Kings and other stations.
When does the BBC Documentary on Crossrail 1 return to our screens?
The Fifteen Billion Pound Railway returns for a second series on 22 May at 9pm to follow the construction of the Elizabeth line under London.
Producers Windfall Films have been given exclusive access to the construction over two years.
The first episode will follow workers as they complete 26 miles of tunnels and construct a new ticket hall in the Whitechapel area of the capital.
It will also feature archaeologists as they uncover a Roman road at Liverpool Street.
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