Elizabeth Line Day One: Live Updates As It Finally Launches

Laura Reynolds
By Laura Reynolds Last edited 7 months ago
Elizabeth Line Day One: Live Updates As It Finally Launches
Photo: Londonist

Today's the day! After many years of planning, construction and delays, the Elizabeth line launches this morning (Tuesday 24 May 2022).

3.5 years after the original December 2018 launch date came and went, there's A LOT of buzz around London's newest railway. Don't know about you, but we were like kids on Christmas Eve last night — and that's after we've already been on it once. We weren't the only ones struggling to sleep though.

As of 6.30am today, it's officially up and running for the public, and we'll be keeping a close eye on it throughout the day to see what people make of it (and yes, we'll be riding it again ourselves — of COURSE we will).

Planning to be riding the Purple Train today? Take a look at our Elizabeth line user's guide for the what, when and where (including one major station which won't be open). Want a souvenir of the day? Try to bag yourself one of these limited edition Oyster cards, or one of our exclusive t-shirts. No idea where you're going? There's a map for that — and an app.

Out on the Elizabeth line today and got something to say? Seats comfier than you expected? Commute time suddenly much shorter? Too much purple? Just plain super-duper excited? Send us your thoughts, reviews, pictures, videos and the like, either on Twitter or to hello@londonist.com — we may end up sharing them on this page.

We'll be updating this page throughout this very special Tuesday, as people share their initial thoughts about the Elizabeth line, and react to the opening — scroll down to see what your fellow Londoners think of the new railway. And of course, we'll be checking whether any of your day one predictions come true.

Click or tap for the full thing, in all its purple glory. Image: TfL

This is the official end of Crossrail (well, at least until Crossrail 2, if that ever happens). Crossrail was the name given to the engineering project to construct the line, but now it's up and running and handed over to TfL, it's the Elizabeth line. Or any of these other nicknames. It's also goodbye to TfL Rail, which was introduced as an interim service before the Elizabeth line opened, and has therefore overstayed its welcome by about 42 months. As of Tuesday morning, TfL rail no longer exists, as its services have been rebranded to the Elizabeth line.

RIP Crossrail. Hello, Elizabeth line. We've been expecting you. For, like, ages.

When's the first Elizabeth line Crossrail train on Tuesday?

Officially, the Elizabeth line starts running at 6.30am on 24 May — so it's an early start if you want to ride on the first ever official public service. Trains runs at a frequency of 12 per hour at this time, meaning that wherever you are on the line, a train should appear within five minutes. That frequency increases to 22 per hour at peak times.

However, train expert Geoff Marshall has pointed out that technically, there's an Elizabeth line service running even earlier than that, due to the overnight rebranding of TfL Rail to the Elizabeth line. And Geoff's a man who reeeally knows his stuff when it comes to trains.


Live updates on Elizabeth line opening day

Abbey Wood warnings

Southeastern knows where the party's at. On Monday, the train company was already warning its passengers to be prepared for crowding and delays at Abbey Wood, a service used by Elizabeth line, Southeastern and Thameslink services. The latter issued a similar warning.

A birthday treat

Walthamstow-based train fan Vincent Karthaus is among the first to ride the Elizabeth line — an aptly-timed treat on the morning of his 15th birthday.

Deserter does Crossrail

The fellas from the Deserter blog will be out and about riding the south London stretch on Tuesday morning for their Pubcast.

(Related thought: drinking alcohol is not permitted on the Elizabeth line, as it's a TfL service and TfL's Conditions of Carriage prohibit it. Just in case you were wondering.)

Canary Wharf goes purple

Crossrail Place Roof Garden in Canary Wharf

Canary Wharf — one of the stops on the Liverpool Street - Abbey Wood branch of the Elizabeth line — is turning purple to celebrate. Various landmarks in the area have been illuminated to raise awareness of the new, quicker way to get to Canary Wharf. The top of the One Canada Square building will be lit up in purple for the next week, while Crossrail Place Roof Garden, Jubilee Park and Canada Square Park’s benches will have the purple treatment for a full month from today. The Adams Plaza Bridge will have dazzling moving lights all across it too, and various shops, cafes and businesses in the area have special offers and discounts on a purple theme.

Queues at opening time

Several Elizabeth line stations had long queues building well ahead of the 6.30am launch time.

Paddington:

Abbey Wood:

Early reviews of the Elizabeth line

The first members of the public to ride the Elizabeth line have been sharing their initial impressions online. Reviews and observations so far include:

A day of firsts

As seen above, many people queued outside stations to be among the first to ride the Elizabeth line, or to ensure they were on the very first train. But many people are claiming their own firsts too.

Alan Benson reckons he was the first to use a Freedom Pass at an Elizabeth line gate line (and seeing as he did it on Monday at a special preview event before the line opened to the public, he may well be right!)

Someone also recorded one of the first announcements on the first train out of Abbey Wood — not that you can hear it over the excited cheering:

Reckon you've got a claim to another Elizabeth line 'first'? Let us know!

London landmarks go purple

Image: TfL

Canary Wharf (above) isn't the only place getting swept up in the purple hype. Over 30 London landmarks went mauve last night, including the London Eye, the Cheesegrater, Marble Arch and Barbican Conservatory.

Various bridges across the Thames took part too, and will also be part of a coordinated light display tonight (24 May) as part of the Illuminated Bridges artwork by Leo Villareal. Bridges to head to if you want to see it tonight are:

  • London Bridge
  • Cannon Street Bridge
  • Southwark Bridge
  • Blackfriars Road Bridge
  • Waterloo Bridge
  • Westminster Bridge
  • Lambeth Bridge
  • Millennium Bridge (with white lighting)
  • Golden Jubilee Bridges (with white lighting)

The people behind the Elizabeth line

It's been slated for being so overdue, with the managers and other officials in the spotlight. But let's not forget the thousands of others, from engineers to construction workers, who've been working hard behind the scenes for years on Crossrail to make the Elizabeth line happen.

Dressing for the occasion

With all manner of Elizabeth line merch already available, from Oyster cards to t-shirts to Elizabeth line moquette socks, there was almost too much choice of what to wear for the inaugural day. That said, we don't think anyone out there is better dressed today than this chap, who's got himself an Elizabeth line moquette waistcoat — with a tube map printed on the inside!

This is a decent effort too:

And of course, those socks:

Here come the nicknames

A few weeks before the launch, when we asked how you'll be referring to the line, we came up with the idea of a portmanteau nickname, like the Bakerloo. One Twitter user has gone further, and created an absolute Frankenstein of a megastation:

Inside the new Elizabeth line stations

People are now sharing a first look at the interior of the stations as they open to the public.

First thing to note: you'd do well to know which end of the platform you want to get off at, as they're rather long:

Here's another look at the rather yellow interior of Canary Wharf Elizabeth line station:

And here's a look at the Tottenham Court Road platforms:

Goodbye TfL Rail

Among all the purple excitement, a few people are taking the time to notice the overnight disappearance of TfL Rail:

First day hiccups

2.5 hours in, we're hearing reports of a few teething problems, including an evacuation at Paddington due to a fire alarm:

Looks like it's a false alarm and the station has now reopened and Elizabeth line services have resumed.

Presumably that Paddington evacuation was the reason for this, too:

Spot Geoff Marshall

Today's turning into a giant game of 'spot Geoff Marshall', the train expert with a large fan base, who was, of course, on the first train out of Abbey Wood this morning.  Here's where he's been spotted so far:

We managed to find him at Tottenham Court Road:

Londonist Editor at Large Matt Brown and the smallest member of Team Londonist with Geoff Marshall

But he's left there now as he's off to Paddington for...

Purple Train sing along at Paddington station with Geoff Marshall.

Speaking of Geoff Marshall, he organised a mass sing along to 'Purple Trains' (to the tune of Prince's Purple Rain) outside Paddington at 11am — lyrics below:

And here's the performance. Slightly hairy start, but it gets better!

Londonist rides the Elizabeth line

Tottenham Court Road. Photo: Londonist

We've been on the Elizabeth line before, on a preview ride back in March. But we've just taken our first ride on it as members of the public, and we're still mightily impressed. At just gone 10am, it's not that busy in the core section — the corridors in the stations and the platforms are huge and incredibly spacious, making it feel almost empty. The seats on trains are mainly taken but there's plenty of standing space (and let's not forget that today, it's a lot busy than it normally will be at mid-morning on a Tuesday).

We've also taken the youngest member of Team Londonist for a ride. Not sure he's all that impressed if the look on his face is anything to go by. Cracking t-shirt though!

Photo: Londonist

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Last Updated 24 May 2022

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