Opinion

Will Londoners Really Call Crossrail The Elizabeth Line?

Will Londoners Really Call Crossrail The Elizabeth Line?
A Crossrail train or Elizabeth line train? © Transport for London

When transport dote Geoff Marshall visited the TfL offices in April 2017, he spotted a swear jar on one of the desks. Keeping London's network of trains and buses ticking over is no walk in the park, and you can imagine the symphony of expletives erupting at the news that, once again, there's been a signal failure at Morden. Yet this swear jar's purpose was against one 'C' word in particular.

Since February 2016 when the Queen herself, sporting an on-brand ensemble of lilac, unveiled the Elizabeth line, there has been a push from TfL to stick that regal name — and flourish of queenlike purple — in the public conscience. It's been a jolt for any Londoner — especially given the Crossrail logo remains at large, peppered across city construction sites. But 'Elizabeth line' is being hammered home; once when we sent TfL's press office an email with 'Crossrail' in the subject line, their reply tweaked it to 'Elizabeth line'. In the 21st century city, is this bullish kind of approach doomed to backfire?

London Underground's backstory with regal tube names goes back to the 1960s, and the Victoria line. For a while before it opened, 'the Viking line' had been mooted as a name. Perhaps memories of 'the great slaughter' of 842AD were still too raw, and Queen Vic won the day. A decade on, and the Jubilee line was set to be the Fleet line — that is, until the name was usurped to mark the 25th anniversary year of Elizabeth II's coronation (this, despite the line not opening until 1979). England's most tenacious monarchs had shown London who was boss.

Elizabeth II opens the line named after her. Image: Crossrail.co.uk

But that was then, this is now. With a major bridge, Olympic park and Big Ben to name but three landmarks, doesn't our current monarch have enough big London toys named in her honour? Many think so. Geoff Marshall himself is an outspoken proponent of the 'Crossrail' name, and he is not alone. "Toadying sycophantic cobblers" is how one commentator saw the royal rebrand, when it was announced. "Why name a tube track after the person least likely to use it?" wondered the Guardian.

That is not the only opposition TfL line-towers (so to speak) face; from the Crystal Palace to the Gherkin, Londoners have always had a knack for foisting nicknames on big projects, and making them stick. Even if 'Crossrail' gradually melted away, it might end up being in favour of 'the Lizzie line' or, as someone in our office is set on, 'the Purp'.

One thing that may save the Elizabeth line brand, ironically, is Crossrail itself — Crossrail 2, to be precise. It's unlikely that the fruitful collective imagination of London could bear to go with numbered lines — that's only ever really worked on bus routes. We like our streets and tube lines to have strange names, thank you very much. No 110 Street on Line 4 here, thank you.

The next question then: what will TfL call Crossrail 2? Because London may beg to differ.

Last Updated 08 December 2017

Ben

My money is on "The Liz Beth" easier to say but sounds like the official name.

ASLEF shrugged

"With a major bridge, Olympic park and Big Ben to name but three landmarks, doesn't our current monarch have enough big London toys named in her honour?"

No one calls Big Ben the Elizabeth Tower, they call it Big Ben, the Olympic Park is the Olympic Park and the Hungerford Bridge is the Hungerford Bridge. Crossrail will be Crossrail to everyone except the TfL media whores

TorontoisRoy

Londoners have renamed tube railways before - the Baker Street & Waterloo => Bakerloo.

OffDutyBill

it is a bit silly really that the Queen effectively now has two Tube lines named after her. Perhaps if she is still reigning when Crossrail 2 comes out, TFL will go for the treble :-)

onetimeteacher

Crossrail 2 will be the Charlie line or the line of Charlie, either works.

Juno

Intriguing that you've carefully labelled this piece "Opinion", even though it isn't. You are allowed to discuss the monarchy without apologising, you know.

Mark Woods

I'll be calling it the Busy Lizzy...

Jim

It is ridiculous to call it the Elizabeth line - I bet she is embarrassed. Stick Crossrail - original distinctive and descriptive. And by the way can we rename a few other silly named buildings imposed by evil sponsors starting with the O2 when the single word Dome does it all with dignity and then going on to the Arsenal Stadium etc etc. Does anyone remember the horse jumping competitions on the tele when one horse was called Sony Music Centre - it's just so embarrassing for all us sentient beings.

Lorenzo M

The Royal Line of Dissent

Peter Kennedy

It's Crossrail for me.

jamesthemonkeh

Lizzy Line will do for me.

simhedges

I have no problem in theory with naming it after the Queen, but 5 syllables for a tube line is too long. But I may be wrong: I've been waiting for the Hammercity and Watercity lines to emerge for years, and they haven't yet. So maybe Elizabeth line will stick. So, as Ben says, maybe Lizbeth, or Lizbeth line. Lizzie line would also work. Crossrail will fade.

MattFromLondonist

It's the Deep Purple (or The Purp for short).

Francesca Fenn

I reckon Lizzie Line will stick. Imminent new trains already christened 'purple sausage trains' in our house.

Waste.Agency

Born and bred Londoners will go for the shortest possible name, "take the Liz' is my wager. Onetimeteacher's CR2 'Charlie Line' through Soho and Hoxton is very amusing.

colon

I think it's great. It is a very British name. It shows how much the public worship the Royal family and other British institutions, regardless of how they really feel. The fact that crossrail is funded by taxpayers money, and Royalty are least likely to use the service (except to ride it on opening day), the taxpayers were not given a say, as that would be giving credit to those who paid and built the line. We are, and seem to willingly accept being slaves to the system we created. This is a very British way of being. The bipolar condition of being British, where the public are at total odds with the government, they complain, but never do anything about it. I'm British

Ted

I can't stand the name. I love the Crossrail name as it describes perfectly what it is and sounds like (the name) it'd belong in the same category as the RER in Paris. The name for E Line is jarring for a few reasons:

1. The Queen already has a tube line named after her, the Jubilee Line. But when you think about it a lot of people wouldn't even click that the Jubilee Line is named after her. It's just really a name, but a memorable one at that.

2. Calling Crossrail the E Line is not the same as the name for the Victoria Line. The Vic is named as such as it serves Victoria station, which itself is not named after the former queen (I appreciate there are murals of Queen Victoria at the station, but it's still not technically named after her). Also Victoria Line generally sounds better than E Line.

3. Most importantly, it is NOT a tube line. Is RER part of the Paris Metro? No. Crossrail uses different type of electrification to what the 11 tube lines use and the fact it runs on the Great Western and Eastern Main Lines alongside other national rail trains further cements this. In addition to this I feel the "tube" just going out to Reading is ridiculous.

It's extremely petty of TFL trying to force the name down our throats where as I see almost no one aside from a few people call it that. I also can't stand it when people say things like "Crossrail is the name of the project, E Line is the service" No, it was always intended to be called Crossrail since it was proposed 40 years ago, and to me, I'll be calling Crossrail.

However I do agree with the point mentioned in this article that just having it as "Crossrail 1/2" is not very London like and the line(s) needed to be named. What I personally would have done is named the Shenfield/Abbey Wood to Reading/Heathrow route as simply Crossrail. When the second line opens (if ever), you could then perhaps name them after the royals (I'd pick something else though), but still keep them as Crossrail. It'd be like extensively branding the Overground as the names of the routes they run on (East/South/West/North London etc), but they're still branded as the Overground.

In short it's Crossrail. End of Story.

Paul Caudell

I'm going with the Lizzy Line

H.M. Queen Elizabeth II

I am an old woman. Let me have this one.

Louis Davies

The Clapney Line, or if you have to name it after someone how about Brunel or Beck?