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Around 400 people were gathered behind a barrier in the rain at Paddington station by 6am today as excitement mounted ahead of the first Elizabeth line train to Abbey Wood at 6.33am.
Transport for London commissioner Andy Byford greeted the crowds but also urged them to avoid running when the gates are opened.
He also gave a young boy an Elizabeth line mug and posed for pictures with those waiting at the front.
Meanwhile, huge queues had also been forming at Abbey Wood, where the first train left at bang on 6.30am.
People had been queuing from as early as midnight, with many paying homage to the colour of the line with purple-dyed hear, purple hoodies and face masks in the style of the Elizabeth line seat moquette.
There was a hubbub in the air at Paddington with lots of excited chatter as rail enthusiasts – including one who had flown in from Canada yesterday – spoke to the media and posed for pictures, ahead of the expected opening of the gates at 6.20am.
London mayor Sadiq Khan arrived to greet the crowds shortly after 6am, and spoke to those at the front of the queue.
He also fist bumped a child who was among those ready to be first on board.
Passengers take pictures and record videos on their phones as they descend the escalators at Paddington station on the Elizabeth Line on Tuesday morning
Passengers flock to Paddington station to be among the first to ever use the Elizabeth Line, which saw its first service depart at 6.33am on Tuesday
Huge queues seen at Abbey Wood this morning, where the first Elizabeth Line service departed at 6am
Passengers form long queues to be among the first to ride the Elizabeth Line in Abbey Wood early on Tuesday morning
Passengers put up umbrellas as they queue in the wet weather outside Abbey Wood station this morning
Transport for London recently released this new map showing how the initial Crossrail services will operate from today
Passengers don face masks depicting Prince William, Kate Middleton and the Queen as they board the Elizabeth Line service at Abbey Wood
Passengers board the Elizabeth Line service at Abbey Wood in the early hours of Tuesday morning
A train pulls into Abbey Wood station on the first day of Elizabeth Line on Tuesday morning
The first set of passengers board the Elizabeth Line early morning service at Abbey Wood
London mayor Sadiq Khan (pictured) arrived to greet the crowds shortly after 6am, and spoke to those at the front of the queue
Mayor Khan fist bumps young boy who had waited in the rain to be among the first to ride the Elizabeth Line on Tuesday
Mayor Khan chats with eager passengers, including a young boy, as they queue to be the first to ride the Elizabeth Line from Paddington
Transport for London commissioner Andy Byford greets the crowds which gathered for the opening of the Elizabeth Line at Paddington station on Tuesday morning
Mr Byford, donning an apt purple tie, gives a young boy an Elizabeth line mug and poses for pictures with those waiting at the front
People had been queuing from as early as midnight, with many paying homage to the colour of the line with purple-dyed hear, purple hoodies and face masks in the style of the Elizabeth line seat moquette. (Pictured: Crowds gather behind barriers at Paddington station)
The full map shows how the Elizabeth line stretches from across London from East to West
The first ever Elizabeth Line service left Paddington station at 6.33am on Tuesday
The opening of the long-awaited Elizabeth line in London will have benefits beyond the capital, both Boris Johnson and the city’s mayor have said. (Pictured: Mayor Khan speaking to passengers this morning)
The mayor of London said the line’s opening would ‘provide a crucial economic boost to the whole country’
He then spoke to three Chelsea Pensioners who joked that he looked much shorter than they had thought in real life.
Six police officers monitored the scene along with a throng of station staff.
Mr Byford said a successful start would be a ‘normal day of service’ and that he hoped passengers would be ‘amazed’ by the journey.
The opening of the long-awaited Elizabeth line in London will have benefits beyond the capital, both Boris Johnson and the city’s mayor have said.
The Prime Minister said the whole country will ‘reap the rewards’ of a predicted multibillion pound boost to the economy, as the new railway line transports passengers from Tuesday.
The delayed and overbudget line will boost capacity and cut journey times for east-west travel across the capital.
Large numbers of transport enthusiasts were expected to be on the first departures.
Mr Johnson said: ‘As the Elizabeth line opens to the public, we know it’s not just Londoners that will reap the rewards, but the whole country – because better transport grows the economy, levels up opportunity and creates jobs.’
The Government said the Elizabeth line project is supporting 55,000 jobs, 1,000 apprenticeships and is forecast to boost the economy by £42 billion.
The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, echoed the PM’s sentiments, saying the line’s opening would ‘provide a crucial economic boost to the whole country’.
Mr Khan, who was due to be on the first train from Paddington on Tuesday, said: ‘Today is a historic day as the Elizabeth line opens to passengers. This is a huge moment, not just for London but the entire country, particularly in this special Jubilee year.
Dressed in sunshine yellow, the Queen arrived at Paddington on May 17 to officially open the line, stepping carefully from the transparent lift while holding a walking stick and smiling warmly. Also pictured Prince Edward, right, talks with Transport for London commissioner Andy Byford, left
The Queen was shown how to top up an Oyster card during a surprise visit to Paddington Station to officially open the Elizabeth line with Prince Edward – days after cancelling her appearance at the State Opening of Parliament due to ‘mobility issues’
Transport for London has previously revealed ‘Elizabeth line’ trains are initially set to run every five minutes from Monday to Saturday
An Elizabeth line train near West Drayton station. The trains are already running on existing track in East and West London
How Crossrail will open in three stages by May 2023
Stage 1: From May 24
The Elizabeth line will launch on May 24 with services on Monday to Saturday from Paddington to Abbey Wood.
Services from Reading and Heathrow to Paddington, and from Shenfield to Liverpool Street, will be rebranded from ‘TfL Rail’ to the ‘Elizabeth line’ and will continue to run on Monday to Sundays.
Stage 2: Autumn 2022
The earliest expected date for the next phase is ‘autumn 2022’. When this phase launches, services from Reading and Heathrow will operate through to Abbey Wood. Services from Shenfield will go through to Paddington.
Stage 3: May 2023
Full timetable for travel from Reading or Heathrow to Shenfield or Abbey Wood without changing.
‘This brand new line is the most significant addition to our transport network in decades.
‘It will add billions to our economy and is set to serve up to 200 million passengers each year. I’m sure passengers will enjoy the modern trains, beautiful step-free stations and the reduced journey times across the capital and the South East.
‘The Elizabeth line is much more than just a new railway, it will provide a crucial economic boost to the whole country and help to turbo-charge our recovery from the pandemic.’
The line stretches from Reading in Berkshire and Heathrow Airport in west London to Abbey Wood in south-east London and Shenfield in Essex.
It will beginning operating in three separate sections, which are expected to be integrated in the autumn.
Transport for London (TfL) estimates that annual passenger numbers will reach 170 million by 2026.
The new central section, built by the Crossrail project, runs through tunnels from Paddington in west London to Abbey Wood.
It will initially be closed on Sundays, apart from during the Platinum Jubilee weekend, to allow further testing and software updates to take place.
Crossrail suffered numerous issues including construction difficulties and complications installing signalling systems.
It was due to be completed in December 2018 and was set a budget of £14.8 billion in 2010.
The final total cost has been estimated at £18.9 billion, including £5.1 billion from the Government.
The line is named in honour of the Queen, who visited Paddington station last week to celebrate the completion of Crossrail.
It comes after 30 iconic London landmarks were lit up in purple last night to celebrate the opening of the new Elizabeth Line today.
STAGE 1: When the ‘Elizabeth line’ first opens on May 24, it will operate as three separate railways – from Reading or Heathrow to Paddington; Paddington to Abbey Wood via Liverpool Street; and Liverpool Street to Shenfield
STAGE 2: The second stage, for which Crossrail says the ‘earliest expected date’ is ‘autumn 2022’, will ensure the services from Reading or Heathrow towards Paddington can run all the way through to Abbey Wood via Liverpool Street. At this stage, there will also be trains running direct from Paddington to Shenfield, also via Liverpool Street
STAGE 3: The final milestone will be ‘no later than May 2023’, when the full timetable will allow passengers to travel without changing across the entire line from Reading to Shenfield or Abbey Wood
The Crossrail route is shown on a geographical map which displays how passengers will be able to travel through London
On Twitter, the Mayor wrote with pictures of the purple landmarks: ‘Tonight: London landmarks shine bright to celebrate the opening of the Elizabeth line’ (The London Eye lit up on Monday night)
Blackfriars Bridge, pictured, was beaming in purple lighting which shimmered over the River Thames last night
London’s Bridges are being lit up in purple to celebrate the opening of the Elizabeth Line, the latest train line to be added to the Transport for London network
Landmarks including the London Eye, Tower Bridge, The Gherkin and the London Stadium were lit up in a regal purple to mark the opening of the latest Tube line, which is set to ‘revolutionise travel’ in the capital.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: ‘The opening of the Elizabeth line tomorrow is a once in a generation moment for the capital and it is fantastic to see so many famous landmarks across our city lit up in purple in celebration of this historic day.
‘The new line will revolutionise travel in our city and across the south east and bring significant economic benefits to the whole country.’
On Twitter, the Mayor wrote with pictures of the purple landmarks: ‘Tonight: London landmarks shine bright to celebrate the opening of the Elizabeth line.
‘Tomorrow: Londoners wake up to a transformational new railway line and the biggest addition to our transport network in decades.’
Transport for London chief Andy Byford said: ‘Tomorrow will be a truly historic moment for London and beyond and I can’t wait to welcome customers onboard this magnificent addition to our public transport network.’
From Cross London Rail Links to Crossrail: Timeline of troubled project
- January 2002: Cross London Rail Links Ltd, a joint venture between the Strategic Rail Authority and Transport for London (TfL), is set up to develop plans for Crossrail.
- July 2004: The Government commits to introducing legislation to enable Crossrail to proceed.
- October 2007: Prime Minister Gordon Brown gives the green light for the project. It is expected to cost £15.9 billion and open in December 2017.
- May 2009: London Mayor Boris Johnson and Transport Secretary Lord Adonis break ground on the project at Canary Wharf.
- May 2009: London Mayor Boris Johnson and Transport Secretary Lord Adonis break ground on the project at Canary Wharf.
- October 2010: Crossrail’s budget is cut to £14.8 billion in the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government’s comprehensive spending review. Its opening date is pushed back 12 months to December 2018.
- January 2014: The National Audit Office says the scheme is ‘just behind schedule’, adding that Crossrail Ltd ‘remains confident’ it will open on time.
- May 2015: Tunnel boring is completed as a tunnelling machine named Victoria arrives at Farringdon. Some 13 miles of new tunnels have been dug under London.
- February 2016: The Queen visits Bond Street station and announces the railway will be named the Elizabeth line in her honour.
- July 2018: Rail minister Jo Johnson announces that Crossrail’s budget has risen to £15.4 billion as ‘cost pressures have increased across the project’.
- August 2018: Crossrail Ltd announces it will miss its December 2018 opening date but the central section ‘will open in autumn 2019’. The project is suffering from construction delays and difficulties installing complex signalling systems.
- December 2018: TfL says Crossrail may be delayed further and could require a £2 billion funding boost, taking the cost up to £17.6 billion. The Government, TfL and London Mayor Sadiq Khan agree a financial package to cover this.
- December 2018: Sir Terry Morgan resigns as chairman of Crossrail Ltd and HS2, days after predicting he would be sacked. He is replaced at Crossrail by London Underground managing director Mark Wild.
- April 2019: A ‘delivery window’ between October 2020 and March 2021 is announced for the central section of Crossrail.
- November 2019: Crossrail Ltd announces that the railway will open ‘as soon as practically possible in 2021’. The cost has increased by up to £650 million to £18.25 billion.
- January 2020: The ‘latest assessment’ is that services will commence in summer 2021.
- July 2020: Crossrail Ltd says the railway will not open in summer 2021 because of delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic. It does not give an updated schedule.
- August 2020: It is announced that the line will open in the first half of 2022.
- July 2021: The National Audit Office says the estimated total cost of Crossrail is £18.9 billion.
- May 2022: TfL announces that the Elizabeth line will open in three separate sections on May 24.
- Autumn 2022: The lines from Reading, Heathrow and Shenfield are due to connect with the central tunnels.
- May 2023: The full timetable of up to 24 trains per hour is scheduled to be introduced.