Crazy for Crossrail: hordes expected at Elizabeth line opening next week

·2-min read
Crazy for Crossrail: hordes expected at Elizabeth line opening next week

London is expected to go Crossrail crazy next week, with “hordes” of people camping out overnight or arriving early to be the first to travel on the £20 billion new railway.

Transport for London commissioner Andy Byford has predicted “immense interest” in Tuesday’s opening day, with enthusiasts even coming from abroad.

The Elizabeth line will open at 6.30am when trains will depart from Paddington and Abbey Wood stations.

Last September, about 150 people queued from 5am to ride on the first Northern line extension train to Battersea Power Station. Mr Byford told the Standard: “I think this is going to be exponentially more than that.

“I think there is such interest in this brand new, effectively main line running through the centre of London that we will get people in their hordes come and visit on that first day.

“I’m expecting lots of Londoners but I’m also expecting people from across the UK. I think actually we will get international visitors turn up. There is going to be immense interest in this.”

It came as Crossrail’s outgoing chief executive Mark Wild echoed Boris Johnson in saying plans for Crossrail 2 should be reactivated.

The line was mothballed on Government orders in 2020 but Mr Johnson, speaking at the Queen’s opening of Crossrail on Tuesday, said: “I think we should be getting on with that.”

Mr Wild described Crossrail 2 as “absolutely essential”.

He told a briefing at Farringdon yesterday that if London returns to pre-pandemic population growth estimates of 11 million, “If we don’t build it, Waterloo will overflow”.

The briefing was at the Bloom building, above Farringdon station, which will become the home of Snapchat.

Alexander Jan, chair of the Central District Alliance and Hatton Garden business improvement districts, who organised the event, said: “I think many business leaders will have been delighted and surprised by the Prime Minister’s very high profile support for Crossrail 2.

“Even though Crossrail is late, it’s timing is now perfect. It will give a real shot in the arm to encourage people back into central London.”

Crossrail 2 was estimated in 2016 to cost £32.6 billion. Two options have been proposed — a “metro” Underground line linking Wimbledon and Alexandra Palace, or a longer “regional” route akin to Crossrail, linking Epsom and Cheshunt via central London.

Mr Johnson said London businesses would be required to pay for Crossrail 2.

Much of Crossrail’s £20 billion cost is being funded by business rates and a community infrastructure levy on new developments along the 73-mile route.

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