The Elizabeth Line Launch Date Has Been Announced

Laura Reynolds
By Laura Reynolds Last edited 25 months ago

Last Updated 04 May 2022

The Elizabeth Line Launch Date Has Been Announced
A purple and white Elizabeth line train alongside a platform at Liverpool Street station
We've been expecting you. Photo: TfL

The launch date for the Elizabeth line* has been announced - it'll open on Tuesday 24 May.

TfL has said that trains will officially start running on the purple line on that date. However, as with all things Crossrail, it's not that straightforward.

Which parts of the Elizabeth line open on 24 May?

The interior of a new Elizabeth line station, with ticket gateline, glass lift shaft, concrete pillars, and hanging 'Elizabeth line' sign
Photo: Paige Kahn

All the stations on the Elizabeth line except for Bond Street will be open from 24 May 2022.

But, as we've known for a while, the various bits of the Elizabeth line won't be coupled together right from the start.

The 24 May launch will see the central section of the railway, from Paddington to Abbey Wood, open for the first time. 12 trains per hours will run in each direction all day.

At the same time, services from Reading and Heathrow to Paddington mainline, and from Shenfield to Liverpool Street mainline, which have been operating as TfL Rail for a while, will be rebranded to the Elizabeth line.

This essentially means that the Elizabeth line will operate as three separate lines when it opens — you'll need to change at Paddington, and also at Liverpool Street.

Crucially, Bond Street station won't be up and running by this launch date. That station in particular has been beset with delays. (Bond Street tube station for Jubilee and Central line trains remains open as usual, you just won't be able to alight or board Elizabeth line trains from here.)

How regular are the trains?

Initially, services will run every five minutes between 6.30am and 11pm. The frequency should rise to as high as 22 trains per hour (through the core at peak times) in the autumn. A full timetable will not be in place until May 2023.

BUT big caveat. Initially, the central section of the line won't be opening on Sundays. With the exception of the Platinum Jubilee weekend, you'll only be able to catch it Monday to Saturday. The day's rest will allow TfL to iron out any creases in the new line's operations. The arms to Shenfield and Reading will continue to operate as normal on Sundays.

When will the rest of the Elizabeth line open?

TfL's map of the Elizabeth line
Click to enlarge

Direct services from Reading, Heathrow and Shenfield are expected to connect with the central section in autumn 2022, with full end to end services commencing no later than May 2023. This is no surprise — as far back as 2020, we knew that the Elizabeth line likely wouldn't be running in full until at least Christmas 2022.  

How late is the Elizabeth line opening date?

A billboard back in 2018, saying 'Elizabeth line from December 2018', with a map of the Elizabeth line route
Photo: Londonist

Originally, December 2018 was the planned Elizabeth line launch date. But by September that year, we knew that wasn't going to happen. Various factors including safety setbacks, Covid 19, and general construction issues that are to be expected on a project of this size all contributed to the 3.5 year delay.

What's the Elizabeth line like?

A glowing purple 'Elizabeth line' roundel, mounted to the exterior of a station building
Photo: Matt Brown

Ah, now that we can answer. In March 2022, we took a preview ride on the purple train — here's what we thought. Of course, it'll be a different experience once large crowds are using it, and everyday niggles make themselves known, but we believe it'll be well worth the wait.

Welcome to London, Elizabeth. It's a pleasure to have you here.

*Now that it's full steam ahead, it's officially known as the Elizabeth line rather than Crossrail. Crossrail was the name given while it was in the construction phase, but now it's been handed over to TfL, it's the Elizabeth line. Though there's an ongoing debate among Team Londonist as to whether we'll be calling it the Lizzie line, the Betty line or the Lizard line.