What's The Difference Between Crossrail And The Elizabeth Line?

What's The Difference Between Crossrail And The Elizabeth Line?
Image: Crossrail Elizabeth line

Crossrail. The Elizabeth line. Two phrases that have been thrown around with wild abandon in recent months in the countdown to London's new railway. But what's the difference between Crossrail and the Elizabeth line? Which is which, and what should you call it?

The project was known as Crossrail until February 2016, when TfL announced that it was being renamed the Elizabeth line, in honour of the Queen. We reckon she'd been tipped off about it, her lilac coat and hat matching the newly unveiled livery perfectly. But to the rest of us, it all felt a bit... last minute, not least because 'Crossrail' signs had already been installed in some of the stations on the network. At time of writing, the ghost of one of these can still be seen at the bottom of the escalators at Tottenham Court Road. The letters themselves have been peeled off, but their shadows remain, to the tune of £5,ooo apparently.

So keen was TfL to eradicate the name 'Crossrail' from the collective consciousness, that the purple Elizabeth line roundels were installed to much fanfare in late 2017/early 2018.

But it's not just the public who TfL are having trouble keeping in line. Their own staff, it seems, need regular reminders to use the right moniker. In April 2017, our transport correspondent Geoff Marshall went to TfL's offices and came across this:

A swear jar, to be paid into every time someone uses the 'C' word. And so began a campaign by Londoners — ourselves included — to keep the thing called Crossrail. Most people do, let's be honest. 'Elizabeth line' is long-winded, and as much as we love Brenda, there's plenty in this city already named after her. And it's not like she'll ever ride the thing (drive it, maybe, but not ride it). Plus, they're not calling this shopping centre Elizabeth Line Place, are they?

So, which is correct depends on your view. Technically, we suppose, the thing's called the Elizabeth line. After all, that's what appears on all the official map. Crossrail refers more to the infrastructure project (Crossrail 2 is already in the pipeline...) whereas Elizabeth line is the finished result. But you're more likely to hear Londoners calling it Crossrail. It's catchier, and it's been floating around in our psyche since the project was introduced to Parliament in 2005.

Mostly though, the phrases are used interchangeably, unless someone's trying to hammer home a point. Then there are those of us who call it the Lizard line — but that's another story for another day.

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Last Updated 17 May 2018