Elizabeth line linkup from Sunday with direct trains to Heathrow

The first direct Elizabeth line trains between Canary Wharf, the Square Mile and Heathrow airport have started running.

This will mean journeys between the capital’s two key business districts and London’s main airport will take just 40 to 50 minutes – and bring the West End within 30 minutes of Heathrow.

It comes just a week after the opening of Bond Street Elizabeth line station, which marked the completion of the last new station on the new railway.

Services from Reading and Heathrow in the west will no longer terminate at Paddington but will run through the new tunnels under central London to Liverpool Street, and vice versa from Sunday,

Similarly, services from Shenfield and other stations east of London will no longer terminate at Liverpool Street but will continue in tunnels to Paddington.

Services from the line’s south-eastern branch at Abbey Wood will be able to run directly to Heathrow or Reading rather than terminating at Paddington at present.

The November 6 changes also sees the line now operating seven days a week. Since its opening on May 24, two-and-a-half years late and £4bn over budget, there has been no regular Sunday service.

There have been more than 27 million journeys on the central section, and more than 54 million journeys in total.

Heathrow tickets will cost £10.80 off-peak and £11.50 at peak time – up to £7.30 more than the same journey on the Tube but less than half the price of the £25 Heathrow Express service.

The third and final stage of the line’s opening – to allow direct trains to run between Reading or Heathrow and Shenfield – is due to happen next May.

This will include end-to-end journeys, including from Shenfield to Heathrow, and up to 24 trains per hour during the peak between Paddington and Whitechapel.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said the Elizabeth Line is playing “a crucial role in our recovery from the pandemic “and delivering a £42 billion boost to the UK economy, supporting hundreds of thousands of new homes and jobs.