It’s almost here. Almost fifteen years after being granted approval by government, the Elizabeth Line is set to open in just months.
City A.M. Editor Andy Silvester went underground to see the line’s progress – trusty iPhone camera in tow.
I THINK people are going to be impressed” are TfL Commissioner Andy Byford’s last words to me as I head down the escalator to the Crossrail platform at Paddington station – and he isn’t wrong. Having got to Paddington on the increasingly grotty Bakerloo Line, this is like stepping into the future: all glass, steel and moody lighting. If this is the future of London transport you can sign me up.
This is a step change from anything else you’ve ever been on – wildly over-budget, delayed, yes, but hugely impressive. It feels like stepping off the plane in some functioning, wealthy foreign clime where they take transport seriously – ie, exactly the opposite of what it currently feels like when you land at Heathrow.
The platform, which looks like a shinier, newer, and cleaner version of the eastern Jubilee Line stations, has even eschewed the traditional departure boards for screens above the doors.
As we leave the station the acceleration is obvious, but you can barely hear the train move (so those playing their music out loud won’t be drowned out, more shame) as it hits top speed. There’s even a slight tilt as we navigate a tunnel, with pleasingly vintage hanging straps to cling onto. A fellow first-time rider is genuinely shocked when the first announcement for Farringdon is made almost as soon as we leave Tottenham Court Road. Two-point-three kilometres in three and a half minutes.
How it will hold up to regular use we will only find out in time. But there’s no disputing the Elizabeth Line is worth the wait.