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More than 1m trips made on central section of Elizabeth line | Crossrail

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More than 1m journeys have been made on the central section of London’s Elizabeth line in the first five days of its opening.

Across the entire railway – which spans from Reading and Heathrow in the west to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east – more than 2m trips have been made, Transport for London said.

It comes as the London mayor, Sadiq Khan, lauded the “roaring success” of the £18.9bn service, which began operating on Tuesday morning amid much fanfare.

The introduction of the Elizabeth line – the official name of Crossrail – means that journey times between Abbey Wood in south-east London and Paddington, in the centre of the capital, have been cut by almost half to approximately 29 minutes. Meanwhile, trips between Farringdon in central London and Canary Wharf, also in the south-east, will now take about 10 minutes rather than 24.

“I’ve been blown away by this fantastic new line,” said Khan. “It’s fit for a Queen, with spacious and speedy trains and stunning stations.”

He added that the service would “revolutionise” travel in the capital and offer the largest single increase to its rail capacity in more than 70 years. “The Elizabeth line is bringing an economic boost as we continue to recover from the pandemic, tempting more people back to offices and businesses in the heart of our city,” he said.

Currently, the line is operating in three separate railways, which are expected to be integrated in the autumn. Until then, passengers on former TfL rail services in the west or east must change at Paddington or Liverpool Street stations to continue on the newly opened central section.

It will also initially be closed on Sundays – except during the Platinum Jubilee weekend – to allow further testing and software updates to take place.

Pre-Covid, TfL anticipated that the service would carry more than 200 million passengers annually. But with the pandemic wiping out part of the demand for a new railway, the body estimates annual passenger numbers will not reach 170 million by 2026.

Howard Smith, TfL’s director of the Elizabeth line, stressed it had received “a great reception”, with hundreds of thousands of customers already flocking to it each day. “It is having a transformative impact on local businesses and opening up access to new areas of London,” he said.

The project, which was due to have been completed in December 2018 for an original budget of £14.8bn, was beset with numerous issues before its grand opening last week.

Read More: More than 1m trips made on central section of Elizabeth line | Crossrail

2022-05-29 23:08:00

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