Crossrail's coming: Here's what you need to know about the Elizabeth Line before its launch later this month

Rebecca Smith
The first passenger train arrived for testing in March
The first passenger train arrived for testing in March (Source: TfL)

Crossrail is coming.

In fact, the first passenger services are set to run later this month, so now's the time to find out what you need to know about the project.

The £14.8bn railway will go through the capital, running for more than 60 miles, and span Reading and Heathrow to Shenfield and Abbey Wood. It features one line, named the Elizabeth Line last year, in a nod to the Queen.

Read more: Crossrail is coming: The first Elizabeth Line services start this month

What exactly is the route?

(Click or tap for full-sized version.)

(Source: Crossrail)

And here's how the line fits in with the rest of the network:

(Click or tap for full-sized version.)

(Source: Crossrail)

Who has been running the project?

Crossrail Limited was the firm set up to build the new railway; it's a wholly owned subsidiary of Transport for London (TfL) and is jointly sponsored by TfL and the Department for Transport. One complete, the railway will be handed over to TfL and run as part of the capital's integrated transport network.

When is it launching?

So, a new fleet of 200 metre-long trains will be gradually introduced from later this month. The first new train enters passenger service between Liverpool Street Main Line and Shenfield. Each train will have walk-through carriages, Wi-Fi and 4G.

Is there a definite date for this month's launch?

Not yet. Testing is still going on by drivers and Crossrail staff. Stay tuned as around 11 new trains will be rolled out on that bit of the line from now until September.

How speedy will my new journey be?

Well, most journey times will be cut by half, and some journeys five times quicker. For example, Whitechapel to Canary Wharf takes 13 minutes; that will be cut to three. Similarly, Canary Wharf to Heathrow will be trimmed from 55 minutes to 39 minutes.

And Crossrail said once the route is fully opened by the end of 2019, there will be a train every two and a half minutes at peak time for central London stations.

How far into the project are we?

Check out this handy construction timeline which gives updates - viewable on the Crossrail homepage. At the moment, Crossrail is 80 per cent complete and on time and on budget. Hooray!

Since the construction of the railway began in 2009, over 15,000 people have worked on the project and over 100m working hours completed.

(Source: Crossrail)

So what happens after the first passenger service this month?

Next up, TfL Rail service opens between Paddington and Heathrow Terminal 4 in May next year. The, line through service extends from Shenfield to Paddington in May 2019, before the Elizabeth Line is fully open in December 2019, extending to Reading and Heathrow Terminal 4.

Do I have to call it the Elizabeth Line?

No, not if you really don't want to. It was officially rebranded last year though. But hey, TfL probably won't feel too bad if you keep referring to it as Crossrail, since it actually didn't cost much at all to rebrand in the first place.

How many people are going to be on it?

Quite a few. Around 200m passengers are expected to travel on the line each year, and to prepare, 10 new stations are being built. These are Paddington, Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road, Farringdon, Liverpool Street, Whitechapel, Canary Wharf, Custom House, Woolwich and Abbey Wood.

Any updates on how the project is looking?

Sure thing. Check out some of the new stations being built and a shot of the first passenger train that arrived for testing, in the gallery below.

(Click or tap on the images to see them in full screen)

Read more: Crossrail construction hits fresh milestone at Abbey Wood station

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