The transformational Elizabeth line opened yesterday (Tuesday 24 May) to an incredible reception from Londoners and transport enthusiasts from around the world. Hundreds of thousands of customers used the railway on its first day of operation, taking advantage of the seamless journeys through the heart of London on the new central section. The Elizabeth line is a historic, once-in-a-generation addition to London’s transport network that will not only change how people travel in London but will support the creation of new jobs and economic growth throughout the country.
The celebratory response to the opening saw around 260,000 journeys made on the new central section between Paddington and Abbey Wood across its opening day, clearly showing its popularity. Across the whole line, which stretches from Reading and Heathrow in the west to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east, more than 460,000 journeys were made.
Customers travelled from all over the country and indeed the world to be part of the historic opening of the line, while Londoners showed their enthusiasm at stations across the capital hours before the opening. Huge lines of people queued for hours at a number of stations across the line before opening to ensure they were able to be among the first to use the inaugural trains on the Elizabeth line.
One of the people that made sure to travel on the new section on its opening day was Keyan Gorg from Harrow, who was celebrating his eighth birthday. Keyan said of the experience: “I woke up at 04.00 yesterday morning because I had to go on the Elizabeth line on the first morning. People were standing in the queue since midnight and the boss of TfL gave me a handshake and the Mayor gave me a high-five and I was so excited to go on the train because it felt like we were in the future. I love how noiseless the train is, that it is eco-friendly and that the indicator on the train shows the good service on other lines. The train is so fast too, the train stations are so far apart but it took us only 30 minutes from Paddington to Abbey Wood and I was back in time to go to school. I give the Elizabeth line 100 out of 100.”
The enthusiasm for the Elizabeth line is clear, as is the transformational impact it will have on London. The railway has opened up new journey options, is supporting jobs and generating a huge economic boost, not only for London but for the whole country. The increase in central London’s rail capacity of 10 per cent is the largest single increase in decades and will support the capital’s regeneration and recovery from the pandemic.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said: “I was proud and excited to join hundreds of thousands of passengers on London’s brand new Elizabeth line yesterday, as it opened its doors to the public for the first time. This is a landmark moment in the history of our public transport system and a gamechanger for Londoners and visitors to our capital.
“Not only will the Elizabeth line help us build a better and greener London for everyone, but it will also help ensure that we can play our part in powering the national recovery from the pandemic. The Elizabeth line is a prime example of the energy, ambition and boundary-breaking spirit that defines our incredible city. But it’s also a symbol of British excellence and I’m in no doubt it will be a source of pride and prosperity for our country for many decades to come.”
Andy Byford, London’s Transport Commissioner, said: “It was amazing to see the overwhelmingly positive reaction that Londoners had to the opening of the Elizabeth line yesterday. I was there to welcome our first customers early yesterday morning and was incredibly proud for Londoners and visitors to see the results of the huge amount of work done by TfL and industry colleagues to open this railway.
“It’s great to see that so many people used the line yesterday, but it is the tip of the iceberg. The Elizabeth line will transform life and travel in London and in the whole south east by cutting journey times, offering alternative options and transforming accessibility. I encourage everyone who hasn’t seen the new, spacious, uncluttered stations and fantastic walk-through trains to visit and see this new addition to London’s transport network.”
Businesses have also celebrated the opening of the line. Dee Corsi, Chief Operating Officer of New West End Company, said: “The opening of the long-anticipated Elizabeth Line marks an exciting new chapter for the capital, offering a speedy gateway into London’s West End via Tottenham Court Road – and, later in the year, Bond Street. The high-speed line will not only improve the commuter experience for domestic and overseas visitors looking to make the most of London’s West End, but will also significantly boost our recovery as we enter into our first full summer with zero restrictions since 2019, welcoming more visitors and more spend to ensure we remain on track reach £8.6 billion annual turnover this year.”
The Elizabeth line will be crucial to London’s recovery from the pandemic, helping avoid a car-led recovery by providing new journey options, supporting regeneration across the capital, and adding an estimated £42bn to the UK economy. London is paying for most of the Elizabeth line, with nearly 70 per cent of the total funding paid by London – made up of roughly 30 per cent from London’s farepayers and around 40 per cent from London’s businesses – combined with 30 per cent from Government.