LONDON (CU) London’s long-delayed crossrail was finally opened to passengers on Tuesday (24 May), more than 12 years after construction started on what was Europe’s biggest infrastructure project at the time. The railway has been named the ‘Elizabeth Line’, in honour of Queen Elizabeth who is less than two weeks away from celebrating 70 years as monarch.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Commissioner of Transport for London, Andy Byford, were joined by hundreds of rail enthusiasts in travelling on the first westbound service which departed Paddington at 6.33 am. “We should be incredibly proud of this fantastic new line, it is 22nd century fit,” Khan told reporters. “It’s spacious, silent, comfortable; this is the game changer we need.”
The railway, which will carry 200 million people a year, is expected to deliver a £400 million boost to the West End, as it will offer faster journeys from Heathrow Airport and Berkshire in the west to Essex in the east. With the railway finally added to the United Kingdom’s transport infrastructure, tens of millions of more visitors are expected to visit London’s shopping and entertainment heart every year.
The New West End Company, a London-based business management consultant representing more than 600 businesses, has now upgraded its forecast for spending this year from £8.2 billion to £8.6 billion to reflect the impact of the Elizabeth Line. According to the company’s chief executive Jace Tyrrell, the influx of visitors driven by the new railway is expected to further drive the district’s recovery from the pandemic. “The opening of the Elizabeth line has come at the perfect time for the West End,” he added.
Construction of the project began in 2010, with the crossrail set to open in December 2018. However, issues with safety testing and signaling systems caused delays which were further exacerbated by the pandemic. Accordingly, it was opened three and a half years late, costing over £4 billion more than the initially budgeted £14.8 billion.