Purple patch: Scroll either way to see the Queen ride the Piccadilly line to open Heathrow extension in 1977 and unveiling the new Elizabeth line at Bond Street in 2016
Queen Elizabeth II seemed genuinely pleased at getting her name on the iconic London Underground roundel as the new multibillion-pound Crossrail line was named after her. Her Majesty, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch visited the under-construction Crossrail station at Bond Street as the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, announced that the new railway will be known as the Elizabeth line in her honour. A carefully-kept secret for such a long-running project which surprisingly did not leak, a feat in itself.
The Elizabeth line with its royal purple livery is expected to transform travel across the city and will see 24 trains per hour running in each direction when the central section of the Transport for London (TfL) run railway opens in 2018. The Queen was presented with a commemorative Elizabeth roundel, and met a wide range of people involved in the construction of Crossrail, Europe’s largest infrastructure project.
This marks the latest in a long-held association between the Royal family and London’s Transport network. Her Majesty became the first reigning monarch to travel on the London Underground in 1969, when she opened the Victoria line service.
In 1977, the Jubilee line was officially opened by HRH the Prince of Wales and was named to mark 25 years since Her Majesty’s accession to the throne. In the same year, Her Majesty opened Heathrow Central station (Terminals 1 2 3) on the Piccadilly line.
In the aftermath of the 7 July terrorist attack on the London Underground, she unveiled a plaque at Aldgate station in 2010 remembering the lives of the 52 victims who had died. In 2013, the celebrations of London Underground’s 150th anniversary saw The Prince of Wales and Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall take a trip on the Underground, and Her Majesty The Queen, His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh and Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge visit Baker Street station.
Mayor Johnson said: “Crossrail is already proving a huge success for the UK economy, and as we move closer to bringing this transformative new railway into service, I think it’s truly wonderful that such a significant line for our capital, will carry such a significant name from our country. As well as radically improving travel right across our city, the Elizabeth line will provide a lasting tribute to our longest serving monarch.”
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “Given Her Majesty the Queen’s long association with UK transport, it is very fitting that this vital link across our capital will be named the Elizabeth Line in her honour. This is an example of British engineering at its best and will transform the way people travel across London and beyond from 2018, bringing better and faster journeys, while boosting jobs and driving economic growth.”
Terry Morgan, Chairman, Crossrail said work on the new railway was now over 70 percent complete and was being delivered on time and within budget. He says the opening of the line in 2018 will be a “significant moment for London”.
Stretching from Reading and Heathrow in the west across to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east, the Elizabeth line will change the way people travel around London and the South East and add much needed new capacity to London’s transport infrastructure. A fleet of brand new 200 metre long trains will run on the line, featuring nine walk-through carriages, air conditioning, CCTV and real-time travel information.
When the railway fully opens it will significantly increase the Capital’s rail capacity, carrying over half a million passengers daily – the same number of annual visitors to Buckingham Palace. Transport analysts are predicting 1.5 million jobs will be created because of the new line withan estimated £42bn added to the economy.
The line will offer a direct connection between all of London’s main commercial hubs, linking Heathrow with Paddington, the West End, the City and Canary Wharf. Trains are billed to commence operation in five phases;
- Liverpool Street to Shenfield – May 2017
- Heathrow to Paddington (main line platforms) – May 2018
- Paddington (Crossrail platforms) to Abbey Wood, through the new central tunnels – December 2018
- Paddington (Crossrail platforms) to Shenfield – May 2019
- Full through service (including services to Reading) – December 2019