Elizabeth Line: propelling London into the future

23 May 2022

Mind the gap: a high-speed Elizabeth Line train is arriving on your platform. 

Part sci-fi, part childrens’ wonder toy, the latest addition to London’s tube map reaches up to 150km/h, darting through the city’s metropolitan area from East to West. Never in the London underground’s 159-year-old history did trains connect the city’s opposite ends so swiftly.

In the post-Brexit era, the state-of-the-art subway is set to crown the English capital as a world paradigm for modern, sustainable, digital urban transport, both an icon of the rat race and of world-class efficiency. 

“This is the most significant addition to our transport network in decades, and will revolutionise travel across the capital and the south-east ,” said Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London. It will “build a better London – one which is safer, fairer, greener and a more prosperous city for all Londoners,”, the Mayor added.  

A virtual reality image featuring passengers on an Elizabeth Line platform in London
A virtual image of an Elizabeth Line metro station in London. Photo by: Transport for London

All eyes on London

No wonder the Elizabeth Line’s official opening on 24 May has created so much anticipation worldwide. 

Eager passengers – and even some tourists prepared to take the first trips at 6:30. It was a historic moment for the city, just days ahead of the 2 June Platinum Jubilee celebrations to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s 70-year reign. A timely launch, even though the project took longer than expected and came in over budget.

According to Transport for London (Tfl) – the body in charge of the city’s transport network – “the new line is set to be crucial to London’s recovery from the pandemic, helping avoid a car-led recovery by providing new journey options, supporting regeneration across the capital.” 

A virtual image of an Elizabeth Line metro station in London
A virtual image of an Elizabeth Line metro station in London. Photo by: Transport for London

It’s easy to be impressed

Everything about the line, which takes its name after the longest-reigning British monarch – Queen Elizabeth II – is majestic; “cathedral-like”, Khan called it. Imposing escalators usher commuters to large platforms. On the high-tech trains, the driver seat’s digital console resembles a plane cabin. Underground, the trains swoosh past London’s underbelly, occasionally emerging over ground, offering a glimpse of the river Thames.

It’s an exciting 42-kilometre journey on roomy, walk-through carriages, boasting CCTV-cameras, air conditioning and on-board staff ready to help passengers. With so much going on, it won’t be long before throngs of tourists add it to their must-see list.  

Commuters already are.

A train carriage of London's Elizabeth Line metro
A train carriage of the Elizabeth Line. Photo by: Transport for London

Working in the city, living away from it

With the Elizabeth Line halving journey times and connecting 41 stations – including central Tottenham Court Road and Bond Street – the new railway allows locals to work in London but live in less expensive, greener and quieter suburban areas.  

Property prices along the new subway have already spiked in recent years, and more than doubled in some areas, British media reports.

The carriages have dedicated areas for bikes and strollers as well as space assigned to wheelchair-users. The line’s entirely step-free stations ensure that journeys on the London underground are finally more accessible.  

An Elizabeth Line sign in central London
An Elizabeth Line sign. Photo by: Transport for London

An economic and emotional boost

Trains will use up to 30% less energy than older types and local authorities are betting on the line to turbocharge recovery in the post-pandemic era. The new metro will deliver “a £42 billion boost to the whole UK economy and hundreds of thousands of new homes and jobs,” Khan said.  

The Elizabeth Line isn’t just an engineering and technology prodigy: original artworks by eight creatives decorate the stations, adding a trendy and curated touch to the environment. And with the occasional buskers eventually moving in to play popular tunes, who will need after-work mindfulness anymore? 


Daniela Berretta Eurocities Writer