Crossrail (Photo: Crossrail)
I have a confession to make: I have never been to Southall – the bustling district colloquially dubbed Little Punjab or Little India (you might have seen it in Bend it Like Beckham).
It boasts South Asian clothing, food, entertainment – everything I love in other cultural hotspots around London such as Ilford, Whitechapel or Forest Gate (Green Street).
The trouble was, Southall, or even Ilford and other East London hotspots since I moved to Greenwich, were inaccessible to me.
But the Elizabeth Line is to remedy all that. Because within half an hour, I can now go from Woolwich to Ilford, or from Ilford to Southall.
Where it would take hours to go from one place to the other on the bus, it now takes less than 60 minutes, thanks to the line unveiled this week with much pomp and circumstance.
Though you might need to change for the trains going to your destination, the Elizabeth line route is still smoother than the journeys of yore.
And it means those who previously found these destinations too troublesome to get to can now enjoy communities they were previously not privy to. South Asians can relish between Southall, Ilford, Forest Gate, Whitechapel, Stratford, Romford and more – all of which boast many Asian paraphernalia.
Think of the late night Eid festivities of Ilford Lane now able to be enjoyed by so many more people, or Sikhs being able to access the biggest gurdwara in London – the Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha Southall.
With connections in other non-London cities such as Reading (which inhabits 10,000 South Asians) and connections from Heathrow Airport, these hubs have become accessible for so many more. Southall is even the only Station with signage written in the Punjabi Gurmukhi script (aka Sikh script).
And Twitter users are pointing it out, with many excited about the new opportunities for exploration.
why did they call it the elizabeth line when it's really the asian suburban experience line? direct trains from slough to ilford with stopovers in southall and green street. it's the samosa line, the asian bridal outfitters line, the "be careful your aunty might be watching" line
— kav (@Kav_Kaushik) May 24, 2022
elizabeth line is a win for the brown ppl tho lets be real - slough, southall, whitechapel, a detour to green street
— Aneesa Ahmed (@missaneesaahmed) May 24, 2022
when i was 15 i bunked off school once to spend the morning in southall and the afternoon in green street. edgware to southall was 3 buses, southall to green street was 2 hours. just imagine how that day would have been if i had crossrail. groundbreaking stuff.
— kav (@Kav_Kaushik) May 24, 2022
— Millie (@MillieSansoye) May 24, 2022
The brand new Southall Station sign is up, with signage in English and Punjabi in light of the new TFL Rail station! The station will accommodate the Elizabeth Line pic.twitter.com/Roe3Apoat9
— UB1UB2 (@UB1UB2) August 19, 2021
The new Elizabeth line goes to southall, Whitechapel and ilford - wedding season will have this train packed 😭
— Rumana Sadia (@RumanaSadia) May 13, 2022
Signage now ready in the brand spanking new Elizabeth Line station at Southall. In English and - Southall being the beating heart of London's Sikh community - Punjabi. pic.twitter.com/NfGwT9xLPc
— Pádraig Belton (@PadraigBelton) August 20, 2021
— Irvine Iqbal (@IrvineIqbal) November 19, 2019
With the next Eid coming up in July, I’ll be making the rounds between each stop, probably with my mum in tow. And I suspect I won’t be alone.
But with the pull of samosas, aloo chaat, and a Bollywood film to boot, I might head there even sooner.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.