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Crossrail: Everything you need to know about the new railway due to be start serving west London next year

From 42km of tunnelling and construction works underground to building new trains and stations above ground, the countdown is on

The new railway for London is on track to open at the end of next year.

So what do we know about the famous £14.8 billion Crossrail project and the Elizabeth line so far?

It all began in 2012 and after years of tunnelling, track work, construction and building of new stations the wait is almost over.

However, there has been criticism after delays were announced.

The Elizabeth line train(Image: Transport for London)

Currently the Crossrail programme is around 80% complete with the introduction of service in the west between Paddington and Heathrow set to open in May 2018.

It will be fully operational serving passengers between Reading and Heathrow in the west to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east by December 2019.


New images of the crossrail, which will link Reading and Heathrow in the west, through new twin-bore 21 km tunnels to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east, have been released(Image: Crossrail)

The workforce have been digging deep since tunnelling began in 2012 to construct 42km of new rail tunnels under London.

For three years the tireless work and effort of workmen and women has gone into completing the tunnel network.

New images of the crossrail, which will link Reading and Heathrow in the west, through new twin-bore 21 km tunnels to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east, have been released(Image: Crossrail)

In addition a further 14 kilometres of station and interchange tunnels have also been bored-through.

New trains

With the new rail line comes a fleet of 66 new trains at more than 200 metres long - the size of two full sized football pitches.

They will feature nine interconnected walk-through carriages, air conditioning, CCTV and real time travel information to help passengers en route to their destination.

A look inside a Crossrail train

Trains will have a capacity to hold up to 1,500 passengers with four wheelchair spaces on each train and multiple free spaces to accommodate prams and luggage.

Each will also provide WiFi and 4G.

Since June this year, new trains (smaller seven carriages) have already been trialling on the TfL Rail line between Liverpool Street and Shenfield - by autumn will make up half the fleet.

In May 2018 when TfL Rail take over the Heathrow to Paddington service with the full fleet expected to be on the tracks by December 2019.

Their lightweight materials including aluminium allows them to provide faster journey times and use less electricity.

Wheelchair bay inside the train

Striped seating will be a mixture of metro-style and bay seats in shades of purple, blue and grey.

The same colours will be used at Crossrail stations for consistency.

Once fully operational, the aim is for a train will run every two and a half minutes at peak times through central London.

New stations

The arrival of the new railway line will see it serve 40 stations, with upgrade works at 30 of these along with 10 new stations.

Works include the installation of 81 new escalators, with the longest escalator at Bond Street at 60 metres long and the shortest at 18.5 metres will be at Liverpool Street.

Escalator works for Crossrail stations
81 escalators to be installed across Crossrail stations

To cope with larger numbers of passengers the project has seen the development of these 10 new stations:

  • Paddington.

  • Bond Street.

  • Tottenham Court Road.

Paddington Station canopy steel framework under construction(Image: Crossrail)
  • Farringdon.
  • Liverpool Street.
  • Whitechapel.
  • Canary Wharf.
Canary Wharf public roof garden(Image: Crossrail)
  • Custom House.
  • Abbey Wood.
  • Woolwich.


The new Elizabeth line will be fully integrated into London’s existing transport network when it opens.

It is to be operated by Transport for London.

Here is an image of the Elizabeth line and all the stops it will serve between Reading and Heathrow and Shenfield and Abbey Wood.

It will stop at 40 stations travelling across west London before passing through the capital and onwards into The City and east London.

Elizabeth line map(Image: Transport for London)

This is an image of the Elizabeth line regional route connections map displaying national rail and airport connections.

Crossrail map passing through west London

The final image shows a network map illustrating how the Elizabeth line fits into the current transport network.

Elizabeth line network map(Image: Crossrail)


Crossrail have provided a timeline featuring the gradual roll out of the new fleet into service.

Here is what we can expect over the next two years until Crossrail becomes a fully operational service.

  • June 2017: The first new train enters passenger service between Liverpool Street and Shenfield.
  • May 2018: TfL Rail service opens between Paddington and Heathrow, replacing the existing Heathrow Connect service and part of the Great Western inner suburban service. (The separate Heathrow Express service will continue.)
  • December 2018: The Elizabeth line opens. Three separate services will operate:
    • Paddington to Abbey Wood
    • Paddington to Heathrow
    • Liverpool Street to Shenfield
    • Customers at Paddington will be able to change between the Bakerloo and Elizabeth lines via stairs, escalators or step-free by lift.
  • May 2019: Direct services operate Paddington to Shenfield and Paddington to Abbey Wood. Services from Paddington to Heathrow will continue to start and terminate in the National Rail station.
  • December 2019: The Elizabeth line is fully open, with services running from Reading and Heathrow in the west through the central tunnels to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east.

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