Just after 7am this morning, the first trains on the Elizabeth line were able to run from the edges of the line directly through the central core tunnels.

Since it opened, the Elizabeth line has effectively been three separate services:

  • Abbey Wood to Paddington
  • Reading/Heathrow to Paddington
  • Shenfield to Liverpool Street

From today, it’s a fully connected service, with trains from Shenfield now running through to Paddington, and from Reading/Heathrow right through to Abbey Wood.

No more changing at Paddington and Liverpool Street to swap lines.

The first train from Shenfield to Paddington calling at Stratford station at 7:46am

Overnight, lots of platform signs were changed to remove the old split line layout to show the permanent layout with through trains. There’s still some to be done, and the trains haven’t had their internal maps changed.

Staff at stations are handing out explanatory leaflets about the change, and there’s a new tube map leaflet in some of the stations.

The other visual change though is the digital signs in the stations. In the core tunnels, they’ve only shown trains to Paddington or to Abbey Wood, and now they’re showing trains to Reading, to Heathrow, to Shenfield.

Staff display screen at Woolwich station.

On board, the trains, tannoy announcements when approaching Whitechapel station from the east now tell you to change there for trains to Reading and Heathrow, and when approaching Liverpool Street from the east no longer tell you to change for trains to Shenfield.

Whitechapel has been chosen as the station to recommend changing at, as it’s the more convenient one due to its layout and has more side passages to get between the two platforms.

Apart from the obvious timetable change, the biggest change, already noticeable is in how passengers use the line.

Heading into central London there’s always been some passengers on the Elizabeth line with luggage, but this morning there were loads of passengers with luggage. Yes, it’s been possible to get the Elizabeth line from Heathrow to central London changing at Paddington, but a decent percentage of people would have changed to the London Underground. Now, there’s direct through trains, and the impact is immediate and visible in how passengers are using the line.

That means a more convenient journey for people travelling to/from Heathrow on the Elizabeth line, but also fewer passengers with luggage on the London Underground, so the tube trips are less crowded and there’s more space for passengers.

And after all, rail upgrades are all about the passengers.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “I’m delighted that from Sunday people will be able to benefit from fast and direct Elizabeth line services into central London, seven days a week. This development is a huge moment for the capital’s connectivity, revolutionising the way we travel across London, allowing people to travel from Stratford in the east of London to Paddington in the west of London in just 19 minutes, and Ealing Broadway to Canary Wharf in just over 30 minutes.”

Passengers can now also use the Elizabeth line seven days a week following the start of Sunday services through central London. The frequency of services in the central section between Paddington and Whitechapel has increased from 12 trains per hour all day to up to 22 trains per hour in peak times and 16 trains per hour during off-peak.

Next May there will be one more change to the service, raising peak hour trains from 22 trains per hour to 24 trains per hour through the central core tunnels. That will also remove the temporary delay on some trains approaching Paddington station where they are held outside the platforms at the moment.

The changes also open up a new train nerd achievement to be unlocked.

The vast majority of trains will run through the core tunnels at Liverpool Street and Paddington, but a small number of early morning trains will still use the mainline station platforms. And now those services that were last week a routine event are now a rarity to try to catch – just because it has to be done.

A sign never seen before on the Elizabeth line as the train approaches Whitechapel station

Sign at Liverpool Street station telling customers to use the tunnel platforms from today.

A shadow on the wall at Liverpool Street station where a sign used to tell people to go up to the mainline platforms for the Shenfield branch.

This article was published on ianVisits


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The post Elizabeth line links up the core tunnels to Heathrow and beyond appeared first on ianVisits.