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Railfanning London‘s Railways

Visitors to London who are also transport enthusiasts (‘railfans’) sometimes ask for advice as to the ‘best’ things to see on London’s railway network. This page is part of a guide which aims to answer that question.

If this is the first time you have reached these pages then it is best to go to the Opening Page which sets the scene, explains the difference between the small and the large profile trains, offers advice on the best type of ticket to buy and photography tips.

Alternatively, it is possible to view everything on one page

Crossrail Line 1 (Elizabeth Line)

Crossrail as a name in the London context refers to two (or three) new subterranean railway lines which will travel across central London and in the suburbs extend over existing heavy rail routes. The primary aims are to increase passenger capacity to attract more people to travel by train and reduce overcrowding on London's existing railways. The concept of introducing trains to the many areas which are remote from any railway service is seen as a secondary (less important) side effect.

The plan is that all the Crossrail deep level 'tube train' tunnels will be large enough for full size mainline trains and operated as part of the mainline / 'National Rail' network - not London Underground trains.

CrossRail Map; click image to see a larger version in a new window.
Map modified by me, original source & license: David Arthur / Wikipedia encyclopædia CC-BY-SA-2.0-CA https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:CrossrailLine1Map.svg

The map includes two stations which are not yet open, more about these stations is explained elsewhere on this page.
Click map to see larger version in a new window! .

General Information

To make life easier for passengers Crossrail line 1 has been given a name, in the same way that London's underground lines also have individual line names - The Elizabeth line

The Elizabeth line comprises three sections of railway:
  • The Great Western Main Line:
    To the west of London from Reading / Heathrow Airport to new underground platforms deep under Paddington station.
    Three of the busier stations along this route are also served by trains operated by Great Western Railway (West Drayton, Hayes & Harlington and Ealing Broadway) - at Paddington these trains use the existing surface station. Other trains operated by GWR travel far beyond London to Bath, Bristol, Cardiff, South Wales / Penzance - West Country.
    A short branch off this route leads to Heathrow Airport, this is served by Elizabeth line and the non-stop Heathrow Express trains.
  • A (mostly) new-build section of railway:
    This section of railway is between Paddington station in west London and Abbey Wood which is on the southern side of the river Thames in south-east London. It passes below the centre of London and then extends via Liverpool Street station, Whitechapel, London's second financial district on the Isle of Dogs (Canary Wharf), the Excel exhibition centre (Custom House), the historic refurbished 1878 Connaught Tunnel and the historic dockyard area of Woolwich.
  • The Great Eastern Main Line:
    To the east of London this route starts at Liverpool Street station although most Elizabeth line trains join it via a link between Whitechapel and Stratford stations. Elizabeth line trains travel as far as Shenfield. Because of the very high numbers of passengers using this section of railway some Monday - Friday rush hour trains continue to travel to / from the surface Liverpool Street station.
    This route is also served by Greater Anglia whose trains then travel far beyond London to Southend On Sea / Chelmsford, Colchester, Ipswich and beyond. Most Greater Anglia trains call at Stratford, a few also call at Romford and Shenfield and passengers for these stations benefit from significantly shorter journey times than when travelling on Elizabeth line trains.

The new-build section opened to passengers on 24th May 2022, and on the same day the historic western and eastern sections were renamed from TFL Rail to Elizabeth line.

Class 345 trains at Ilford Depot. . Elizabeth line name on Class 345 train.
Two Elizabeth line Class 345 trains pass each other - whilst passing some sidings with more of these trains which are not in service.
Filmed from a footbridge over the railway and depot between Ilford and Seven Kings stations.
. On their sides the trains carry the Transport For London Roundel symbol with the words 'Elizabeth line'.
This eastbound train had stopped just outside the west London tunnel mouth, this location is an easy walk from Royal Oak Underground station.
Below / Above Ground

Entirely below ground in central London (just to the west of Paddington station - just to the west of Stratford station). But above ground on the pre-existing sections of railway to Reading via west London and to Shenfield via east London.

The Abbey Wood route rises to the surface a little to the west of Custom House station but includes two more underground sections in Docklands and when passing below the River Thames.

The Heathrow Airport route is above ground where it diverges from the route to Reading but is wholly underground in the airport area.


twin tunnel symbol Information for people who are happy to travel on trains which are above ground but experience claustrophobia when in tunnels.

West London passengers can avoid the tunnels to Paddington station by travelling on Great Western trains between Ealing Broadway and Paddington stations.

East London passengers can avoid the tunnels to Liverpool Street (via Whitechapel) by travelling on Greater Anglia trains between Stratford and Liverpool Street. But note that part of Liverpool Street station has been built over so is not fully in daylight and some of the approach route has also been built over - but is many tracks wide, so it feels more travelling below a wide bridge than in a tunnel. These comments also apply to the 'rush hours only' Elizabeth line trains which travel direct between Stratford and Liverpool Street stations.

Impressive Station Architecture

The new-build Elizabeth line stations include much impressive architecture which in many ways totally redefine the 'beingness' of an underground railway station. There is far too much to show everything but this offers a selection of views.

Most of the new station buildings feature works of art, only some of these are detailed on this page, more information can be found here:
https://www.crossrail.co.uk/ .

Most underground Elizabeth line platforms are very deep and many of them require passengers to use two flights of escalators between the street and the platforms.

. Elizabeth line ticket hall view.
Also included in the Crossrail / Elizabeth line project is a distinctive style of multi-coloured footpath paving slabs, these are being installed in many (if not all) of the localities that will be served by the new service with the idea being to create a sense of connectedness / being part of a larger family no matter where you are along the Elizabeth line route.
Elizabeth line Tottenham Court Road station passageway. Elizabeth line Whitechapel wayfinding totem pole. Elizabeth line Tottenham Court Road station architecture.
Five Elizabeth line stations have adopted a near-identical design cue which includes sound-absorbing white tunnel linings, finger-post
wayfinding signage with integral uplighters for passageway lighting and smooth inside curves where tunnels and passageways meet.

The two outer views come from Tottenham Court Road station. The middle view comes from Whitechapel station.

Central Core Stations

A brief look at each of the stations Paddington - Whitechapel. All of these stations already existed and have been upgraded for the new service.


At Paddington the departures taxi rank was relocated so that a brand-new 20 metre deep cut'n'cover box-style station could be dug out of the ground alongside the existing Network Rail mainline railway station. The new Elizabeth line station is close to platform 1.

A 120 metre long steel and glass canopy provides weather protection over the 'hole in the ground' whilst also allowing daylight to filter down into the ticket hall. Located 10 metres above ground this canopy is decorated with every known type of cloud formation. Called Cloud Index and created by Spencer Finch this artwork is intended to mimic the ever-changing sky.

The Elizabeth line platforms include a fully accessible walking interchange passageway with the deep-level Bakerloo line platforms. However passengers wishing to interchange with the two subsurface Underground railway stations (for Hammersmith & City, Circle and District line trains) will need to exit the Elizabeth line station and walk through the mainline railway station.

Elizabeth line Paddington station escalators. . Elizabeth line ticket hall view.
One of the two sets of escalators between street level and the ticket hall. This facilty has two escalators, the other one has three escalators. . Descending the escalators from street level to the brand new ticket hall. Also seen are the glass-walled fully accessible lifts.
Elizabeth line platform Paddington station. . .
Platform view, Paddington Elizabeth line. . image to come.

Bond Street

At Bond Street two brand new station buildings with ticket halls have been built at opposite ends of the station platforms.

The Western ticket hall is in Davies Street close to the West One Shopping Centre and the existing London Underground station.

The Eastern ticket hall is in Hanover Square and is so close to Oxford Circus station that passengers are allowed to use the Oyster PAYG / smartcard ticketing system 'out of station' interchange facility to change between the trains at these two stations and (providing they do not take too long) they will be charged for one seamless through journey. This will especially benefit Victoria line passengers as this line does not have any other interchange stations with the Elizabeth line.

Elizabeth line Bond Street station Davies Street entrance. . Elizabeth line Bond Street station Hanover Square entrance.
The two new station buildings are very similar in core design with entrances at one end and part-way along the side and high ceilings with semi-recessed lighting. Davies Street is on the left and Hanover Square on the right.

The Davies Street entrance includes three artworks by Darren Almond:

  • Horizon Line: This is located above the escalators down from the ticket hall and comprises a large grid of fragmented numbers cast in aluminium made up of 144 individual hand-polished tiles.
  • Time Line (From Under The Glacier) is seen by passengers ascending the escalators from the intermediate landing which includes the interchange passageway to the Jubilee and Central lines.
  • Shadow Line (Reflect From Your Shadow) is located above the escalators down to the Elizabeth line platforms from the intermediate landing which includes the interchange passageway to the Jubilee and Central lines.

Time Line and Shadow Line draw upon the tradition of naming early British locomotives with cast bronze nameplates, although here the aim is to offer (quote:) poetic phrases that offer a philosophical proposition to each passerby.

Artwork at Elizabeth line Bond Street station.
Elizabeth line artworks located above both flights of escalators at the Davies Street station entrance.

Tottenham Court Road

At Tottenham Court Road station the Elizabeth line also has two ticket halls located at each end of the station platforms. The western ticket hall is brand new and located partway along Oxford Street - with its location officially described as being in Dean Street, Soho. This ticket hall only serves Elizabeth line trains.

The eastern ticket hall is not brand new as it has served the Central and Northern lines for many years. However it was very cramped and at busy times became very crowded. So it was completely rebuilt and enlarged at the same time as the construction of the Elizabeth line. This ticket hall is fully underground - reached via several brand new and much older street accesses. Its location is known as St Giles Circus but many people will know this as being the busy road junction where Oxford Street / New Oxford Street / Tottenham Court Road / Charing Cross Road meet.

The rebuilding of this station ticket hall caused much controversy because it entailed closing the much-loved Astoria theatre and removing distinctive mosaic tiling (by Edward Paolozzi) from the Central line escalator shafts and both Central and Northern line platforms. In 2022 a new theatre (called @SohoPlace) opened to replace the Astoria theatre. Some of the mosaic tiling still exists at older parts of the station but whilst the Central line escalators are still where they were before the rebuilding the mosaic tiling was not reinstated.

The eastern ticket hall includes a direct interchange link between Elizabeth and Northern line platforms. But not between Elizabeth and Central line platforms. This is because this facility already exists at Liverpool Street and Bond Street stations.

Elizabeth line Tottenham Court Road glass entrance. . Elizabeth line Tottenham Court Road station building wall decoration.
The now spacious (underground) eastern ticket hall at Tottenham Court Road which serves the Central, Northern line and Elizabeth lines includes two of these 'glass wall' entrance / exit enclosures in the foreground of the Centerpoint Tower. . The brightly decorated ticket hall wall at the same location - the entrance on the left only has fixed stairs whilst the one on the right offers powered travel. Also note the skylight bringing daylight to the ticket hall.
Elizabeth line Tottenham Court Road escalator circulating area. . Elizabeth line Tottenham Court Road Dean Street station building.
Circulating area at Tottenham Court Road station - note that the signposted interchange to the Central line is via the ticket hall and requires passing through two sets of ticket gates. Instead there are direct interchange passages between these two lines at Bond Street and Liverpool Street stations. . The new Dean Street station building which serves the western end of the Elizabeth line platforms, as photographed from Oxford Street on the day it opened. Note the black colour, apparently a design idiom - this colour was chosen to match the late night nature of many businesses in this area.


Farringdon is another Elizabeth line station that has two ticket halls located at each end of the station platforms.

The western ticket hall also serves Thameslink trains and is opposite the historic Metropolitan Railway station building.

The eastern ticket hall is brand new and located next to the historic Smithfield Market. The walking route between the Elizabeth line platforms and this ticket hall includes a direct lift access from the westbound London Underground platform at Barbican station. Passengers who use this link to walk (rather than travel by train) between the stations will still be charged a Zone 1 train fare!

The new western station entrance at Farringdon is especially noted for its artwork which was created as a homage to the goldsmiths, jewellers and ironsmiths who work at nearby Hatton Garden, which is the centre of the UK jewellery trade.

The roof is formed of a 350-tonne precast concrete structure that is suspended in mid-air from a steel frame without the need for column supports. The geometry of the ceiling reflects the alignment of the Thameslink service and the Elizabeth line.

The back-lit etched glass artwork in the side wall glazing is named Avalanche. Created by British artist Simon Periton this comprises a frieze sequence of large diamonds, with the intricate features of each gem having been digitally printed in ceramic ink.

. Decorative jewellery themed artwork Avalanche western ticket hall Farringdon station Crossrail Elizabeth line Thameslink.
The side wall decorative glazing by Simon Periton named Avalanche. As described left.
Decorative roof western ticket hall Farringdon station Crossrail Elizabeth line Thameslink. . Decorative ceiling escalators Farringdon station Elizabeth line.
Views of the western ticket hall which serves both the Thameslink service and the Elizabeth line.
Left: This view also includes a Class 700 Thameslink train.
Right: This view also shows the roof over the top of the Elizabeth line escalator shaft.
Decorative window glass eastern ticket hall Farringdon station Crossrail Elizabeth line. . Inside Farringdon eastern ticket hall Crossrail Elizabeth line.
The eastern ticket hall at Farringdon station.
The exterior glazing artwork was also created by Simon Periton. The design features an intricate pattern that reflects the Victorian-era metalwork of the historic Smithfield market directly opposite the station building. The transparent artwork allows passengers to see through to the coffered ceiling - which is based on the Brutalist architecture on the nearby Barbican Centre.

Liverpool Street

The Elizabeth line Liverpool Street station has platform exits at both ends, one of these is actually part of a different station - this being Moorgate. Whilst it is possible to use Elizabeth line passageways to walk between Liverpool Street and Mooorgate stations, passengers who walk (rather than travel by train) between the stations will still be charged a Zone 1 train fare.

The construction of the station entrance and passageways also included allowing a period of time for an archaeological dig, during which time some ancient artifacts going back as far as the Roman era over 2000 years ago were discovered and recovered.

Elizabeth line escalator shaft with glass wall lift. . On a descending escalator, arriving at platform level.
Several Elizabeth line stations in central London require passengers to use two flights of escalators when travelling between the street and the platforms. These views come from Liverpool Street, the escalator shaft on the left also has a glass wall inclined lift (see below for more information).


This very old station was extensively rebuilt and modernised as part of the Elizabeth line project. However the original 1876 entrance has been retained, renovated and cleaned so as to better match the heritage-style buildings in Whitechapel Road.

The rebuilding project included installing the new Elizabeth line platforms, a new (and much larger) ticket hall and gateline, improved interchange between the very busy Underground and Overground platforms and completely re-jigging the Underground station so that instead of four platforms for District / Hammersmith & City line trains there is now a very wide island platform with just two platforms. A new cripple siding (for a failed train) was built near West Ham station to replace facilities removed from this station.

There was going to be a second ticket hall and station exit at the other end of the Elizabeth line platforms but this was cancelled so as to reduce the overall cost of the Elizabeth line project.

Whitechapel station platform London Elizabeth line. . Whitechapel station steps lift London Underground Overground Elizabeth line.
Whilst the Elizabeth line platforms at Whitechapel are brand new the rest of the station has been extensively rebuilt for the new service.
Whitechapel station street frontage London Underground Overground Elizabeth line. . Whitechapel station artwork posters
To better fit into its local urban streetscene the historic station building frontage
has been preserved with 'Women Of TfL' posters replacing the upper floor windows.

Abbey Wood Branch

The branch to Abbey Wood is a brand new service which partially re-uses older railway infrastructure in the London Docklands area.

Canary Wharf and Woolwich are brand new station buildings, although other nearby stations with similar names already existed.

Custom House and Abbey Wood stations already existed and have been extensively rebuilt. Bus services from Abbey Wood serve Thamesmead, which is a large residential area in south-east London that does not have any railways at all.

Canary Wharf

This box-shaped station sits on an artificial island that was created by draining the West India Quay north dock. 18 metres below water level it is part of a multi-floor structure that on upper levels includes retail and leisure space plus a roof garden

The ticket hall has multiple accesses, including some at each end of the building. However, as already exists with the Jubilee line and several DLR stations in this area, the Elizabeth line station does not include direct interchange passageways with any other railway services. Instead the other stations are easily reached by exiting from this station and walking through the various indoor shopping centres and / or outdoor footpaths. The 'out of station interchange' (OSI) facility on the PAYG smart card ticketing system means that interchanging passengers will be charged a simple through fare for their entire journey - but only if they do not take too long to walk between exit and entrance card readers - in most cases the time limit is 20 minutes.

Elizabeth line Canary Wharf station platform. . Elizabeth line Canary Wharf yellow escalators.
Elizabeth line Canary Wharf station platform. . Canary yellow glazing on the vertical travel modes of transport helps differentiate the lifts & escalators which serve the railway station from those which only serve the other parts of this multi-floor structure.
Elizabeth line Canary Wharf station circulating area. . Crossrail Place Roof Garden.
Part of the Crossrail Place shopping centre plus a flood defence channel filled with water-loving planting. The water level will vary as needed to protect the station. . The Crossrail Place Roof Garden - a 300 metre enclosed garden
above Canary Wharf Crossrail / Elizabeth line station.

More information: https://canarywharf.com/arts-events/crossrail-place-roof-garden/

The Crossrail Place roof garden features plants from many of the countries once visited by ships that unloaded goods in the dock that has now been repurposed into this Elizabeth line station plus retail complex. The West India Quay north dock sits almost exactly on the Meridian line and the roof garden planting has been arranged according to which hemisphere the plants come from, with Asian plants such as bamboos to the east, and plants such as ferns from the Americas to the west.

Custom House

Custom House is next to the Excel exhibition centre and was already served by the Docklands Light Railway (Beckton branch). At this station the two railway services have one double-sided island platform each, centrally located between each pair of tracks.

It would have been much better for the passengers had this station been designed to have cross-platform interchange between the two railway services. This would also have reduced the numbers of passengers walking around the station. However, the railway industry did not want this. Apparently it is seen as 'inconvenient' when trains operated by different railway companies share the same platforms plus because the DLR was already running the safety people said that it was too dangerous to have construction workers close to a live railway.

Perhaps another reason for not wanting cross-platform interchange between the two railway services at Custom House is that the DLR and Elizabeth line have very different ticketing regimes. The DLR is an open system whereas the Elizabeth line is largely a closed system - which means that to enter or leave the stations passengers must pass through ticket gates which check that they have a valid method of fares payment.

Elizabeth line platform Custom House station. Elizabeth line DLR Roundels Custom House Lift Shaft. Elizabeth line DLR trains Custom House station.
The rebuilt Custom House station

Left: The eastbound platform, the main entrance to the Elizabeth line platforms is above the tracks and this view also shows some ticket barriers.
Middle: Elizabeth line and DLR Roundels on a lift shaft wall - filmed at twilight to also show some nocturnal lighting
Right: A Class 345 train at the westbound platform (for trains towards Central London) and
an eastbound DLR train which has just left its platform and is continuing its journey to Beckton.

Silvertown   City Airport?

The route between Custom House and where the Elizabeth line passes below the river Thames at North Woolwich reuses part of a very old section of passenger and goods railway through London's docklands.

This section of railway used to have a station at Silvertown, close to the footbridge from where these photographs were taken, but in 2006 this section of railway was closed for rebuilding as part of the Elizabeth line - with the works included demolishing the station.

This area is now served by the nearby DLR (Docklands Light Railway) station for London City Airport (LCY). DLR trains from here travel on two routes; Bank - North Woolwich and Stratford International - North Woolwich. In addition, as can be seen there are local buses too, although this being London passengers who travel on both trains and buses are charged two sets of travel fares.

Elizabeth line trains Silvertown. . Elizabeth line trains Brick Lane Music Hall.
The site of the former Silvertown station - looking east towards North Woolwich where there are portals for the tunnels below the River Thames which are aptly known as Thames Tunnel.

The portals on the southern side of the Thames are at Plumstead.
. The view from the footbridge looking west. The tracks lead down to the 1878 Connaught Tunnel (also known as the Silvertown Tunnel and the Albert Dock Tunnel).
Refurbishing this tunnel for the Elizabeth line was a challenging task not helped by the risk of encountering unexploded WW2 bombs and the proximity of the site to the London City Airport runway.
Also seen in the image above - right are some DLR trains and the Grade II listed St Mark’s Church, Silvertown which features Victorian gothic architecture and was designed by Samuel Teulon. Nowadays this is known as the Brick Lane Music Hall - more information here: https://www.bricklanemusichall.co.uk/about/.

A Future Station Here?

The owners of City Airport would very much like for there to be an Elizabeth line station serving their airport. It is understood that they even offered £50m to pay for a new station to be built to serve their airport. But the offer was refused.

However it might yet happen... if it does there will be a 300 metre walk along residential streets between the airport and the railway station.

The Elizabeth line Wikipedia route map (above) includes this station as 'proposed'.


Woolwich is a simple low-rise minimalist brick-built box-shaped station with a single entrance. The ticket hall has skylights so that it is bathed in natural daylight.

The facade above the station entrance comprises a 30 metre wide bronze-clad portal which features a rifling pattern reminiscent of the cannons which were cast on the Arsenal site.

The area in front of the station entrance is known as 'Dial Arch Square' and it includes a lawned area plus seating.

. Elizabeth line London Woolwich station platform.
Woolwich station platform.
Elizabeth line London Woolwich station. . Elizabeth line London Woolwich station roof.
Woolwich station - instead of a building a warren of connecting interchange tunnels the nearby Woolwich Arsenal railway station (SouthEastern and DLR) and Woolwich Arsenal Pier (river bus) are easily reached by exiting from this station and walking along the street footpath.

Abbey Wood

The ticket hall at Abbey Wood was rebuilt as part of the (then) Crossrail scheme and opened in March 2018. Internally it makes extensive use of wood with the inside of the ceiling using larch, plus the waiting area and platform seats also using wood. In many ways this mirrors the extensive use of wood for the rebuilding of London Bridge mainline station, which is one of the main London stations served by the SouthEastern and Thameslink services that call at this station.

The promotional material for this station includes a mention of the snazzy modern glass and metal platform shelters as if they are significant. Of course weather protection for station platforms is a welcome feature - especially when it is functional too. The view (below - right) showing the wet platform surface suggests that for at least part of the station these glazed platform canopies are actually about as useful as the proverbial chocolate teapot - they may have eye candy but they totally fail to protect passengers from heavy rain!

Abbey Wood SouthEastern Elizabeth line station building. . waiting area Abbey Wood station.
At present this station is an Elizabeth line terminus, although extensions to Gravesend (and even further?) have been proposed. . The waiting area with views of all four platforms.
Other facilities here include a retail shop, café and toilets.
Abbey Wood SouthEastern Elizabeth line station cycle rack. . Abbey Wood SouthEastern Elizabeth line station platform canopy.
Somewhat modest cycle parking area opposite Abbey Wood station. . The 'chocolate teapot' platform shelters which may look snazzy but are largely functionally useless.

Other Information

Old Oak Common Station?

This proposed station is very likely to be built and become the western terminus of Elizabeth line trains which at present terminate at Paddington station.

The reason for this is that a major High Speed Two (HS2) station is being built here and the Elizabeth line will offer an excellent speedy connection with other parts of London.

It is expected that the wider Old Oak Common regeneration zone will also include stations on the Central and Bakerloo Underground lines as well as London Overground North London line, West London line and Euston - Watford line. Whether all these will be brand new stations or existing stations scattered around the wider regeneration zone remains to be seen.

The Elizabeth line Wikipedia route map (above) includes this station as opening in 2026.

Kensal Town?

Also in west London this station is desired because at present trains pass through this area without stopping and this significantly restricts travel opportunities. Previously this area was served by British Rail trains on the London - Reading route at Westbourne Park station but these were closed in 1992 and whilst Underground Hammersmith & City / Circle line trains still call here journeys to destinations such as Ealing Broadway or Heathrow Airport require travelling via Paddington station - the opposite direction of travel!

Kensal Town is a proposed station name, it might also be called Ladbroke Grove, Kensal or Portobello Central.


All of the brand-new Elizabeth line stations are fully accessible from the street to the trains. Stations on older sections of railway are only accessible between the street and the platform. Because of the physical differences in shape and size between different types of passenger and freight / goods trains it is not always possible to offer full accessibility on routes used by so many different types of rolling stock.

Inclined lift next to escalators at Elizabeth line station. . Side view inclined lift in escaalator shaft.
Some stations use inclined accessibility lifts located in escalator shafts.
Accessibility markings next to platform screen doors at Elizabeth line station. . railway wheelchair ramps.
The platform doors closest to the wheelchair spaces on the train are clearly identified. . Wheelchair ramps at an older station - these are deployed by station staff, but need to be requested in advance.
Platform Doors - Next Train Information

The platforms at all underground stations feature platform screen doors.

Because of the length of the platforms it was decided to locate the 'next train' information above each set of platform doors.

Elizabeth line platform screen doors. . Please let passengers off the train message.
Platform doors - above them the information displays show the 'train departing' message. . A close-up of the stickers on the platform screen doors.
Montage of Elizabeth line passenger information display messages. . Elizabeth line PID interchange possibilities at Farringdon.
A montage showing some of the other platform door passenger information display (PID) messages - the top two date from the Paddington - Abbey Wood preview service which began in May 2022 when Bond Street station was yet to open and crossed out in a way that is barely visible (it should have been with a red line, not white).

The scrolling message on this day was Welcome to the Elizabeth line. Enjoy your journey today!

The lower image shows signage for passenger doors which are not working.
. A close-up of the scrolling message showing interchange possibilities - in this case at Farringdon station.
film projector icon

Two short films showing the passenger information displays in action have been placed on the ‘YouTube’ film / video website and can either be watched via the embeded displays or on the YouTube website in new windows by clicking the links below the films.

1) An Elizabeth line train going to Paddington departing from Whitechapel station

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=msPAGDy-Ok0 .

2) An Elizabeth line train going to to Maidenhead arriving at Whitechapel station

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8HYrwYX_4O4 .

Long Walks

For various reasons - including needing to avoid sewers and pre-existing tunnels - passengers interchanging with other lines at some central London stations have long or even very long walks. This situation already exists at some London Underground stations, especially those which are served by London's newer Tube lines - the Victoria & Jubilee lines - (eg: Green Park, Oxford Circus and the merged Trafalgar Square & Strand which is now called Charing Cross).

What is new for the Elizabeth line is that some of the interchange passageways include seats so that weary passengers can rest for awhile.

Elizabeth line interchange passage Liverpool St - Moorgate. . Elizabeth line interchange stairway inclined lift Liverpool St - Moorgate.
The very long interchange walking route between the Elizabeth line at Liverpool Street and the
Northern line (Bank branch) at Moorgate includes several 'bum rest' perches and proper seats.
Elizabeth line interchange passage Paddington. . Elizabeth line interchange passage Bond Street.
The long interchange walking route between the Elizabeth line and the Bakerloo line platforms at Paddington station. . The long interchange walking route between the Elizabeth line and the platforms for the Central and Jubilee lines at Bond Street station.
Ownership and Ticketing

It is important to know that the Elizabeth line is a National Rail (mainline railway) service and NOT a London Underground service.

This means that its status is the same as the London Overground in that in addition to all the usual London tickets and passes (Oystercards, etc) passengers with discounted fares railcards that are valid nationwide can use them on Elizabeth line trains, as can prepaid passes such as the All Line Rover, BritRail and Eurail passes.

. Custom House station London ticket barrier gates.
At Custom House Elizabeth line passengers must still pass through ticket gates - even if they are interchanging with the DLR.
Historic Portions Refurbished

The railway routes Paddington - Reading and Liverpool Street - Shenfield are both long-established, having existed for over 100 years and have at least four tracks, with one pair of tracks (per route) dedicated to fast (longer distance) trains and the other pair of tracks for slow (local) trains. Mostly Elizabeth line trains will use the slow (local) tracks.

As part of the Crossrail project these two existing railway routes have been upgraded. The first stage towards this occurred at the end of May 2015 when control of the London Liverpool Street - Shenfield suburban service was taken over by Transport for London and started using the temporary brand name of TFL Rail.

Chadwell Heath platform name signs. . railway station passageway lift signage.
Chadwell Heath is one of the existing stations that was refurbished and re-branded - these images date from when this service was known as TFL Rail.
The platforms normally used by Elizabeth line trains have received a variant of traditional London Transport style station name signs whilst the other platforms have plain / unbranded signs. . Just beyond the ticket gates at Chadwell Heath showing the different style of way-finding sign branding for platforms that will (and will not) be served by Elizabeth line trains - and more.

To make this route suitable for the much longer new trains many (but not all) station platforms have been lengthened and to the east of London the overhead wire power supply system which dates from the late 1940's has been renewed. Many (but not all) of the portals from which the wires hang have been replaced and brand new registration arms (of a very different design) have been installed - even on the older portals.

The line to the west of London has also benefited from much investment, both as part of the Crossrail project and as part of an electrification project that extends to faraway destinations not served by the Elizabeth line.

London Crossrail Elizabeth line older overhead wire support portal. . Hayes And Harlington station Class 345 387 Elizabeth line GWR trains.
Eastbound Class 345 train arrives at Seven Kings station. This route was electrified in the 1940s and in some places the older overhead wire support portals still remain. Filmed from Aldborough Road. . Class 345 train in the bay platform and GWR branded Class 387 train at Hayes & Harlington station.
Hayes and Harlington new Elizabeth line station building. . Elizabeth line station platform seat.
The brand new station building at Hayes and Harlington. . Brand new platform seat complete with the London Transport Bulleye symbol / Tf L Roundel logo and some Elizabeth line purple arm rests.
Ilford Elizabeth line station building under construction. . Ilford station name on floor mat TfL roundel.
The main station building at Ilford is also being rebuilt.
This view is from January 2022 - construction only began in 2019
and was then significantly delayed by the virus pandemic.
. Ilford station is so busy that it also has two additional entrances
(one each side of the tracks) at the opposite end of the station.
This floor mat comes from the platform 1 Ilford Hill entrance which
also serves the East London Transit bus stops.
Short Platforms

For various reasons it was decided that some stations would not have their platforms lengthened to accept 9 coach trains. This means that when calling at these platforms the doors in some carriages at the back of the train remain closed and passengers must walk through the inside of the train until they find a doorway that is allowed to be opened. Exact details of which doors open / remain closed varies according to the individual stations. Ideally regular passengers will quickly learn where they need to be to always be near a door that opens at their destination station.

The reasons for not lengthening every station platform include the cost of the works, lower expected passenger numbers (at that station), physical constraints and sheer impracticality. At some stations it was felt that the cost of the works would be unjustifiably high. For example, Maryland has road bridges at each end of the platforms and at least one of these would have needed completely replacing. Maryland is not an especially busy station and experience at stations where longer trains call at short platforms on the Underground and DLR has shown that the 'walk-through trains' solution can be a viable alternative solution. Another station where platforms are not being lengthened is Hanwell. This too is not an especially busy station.

Class 345 long trains / short platform information sign. Crossrail Elizabeth line train at short platform. .
A sign (at Ilford station) informing passengers about the trains being longer than some station platforms. At some stations the trains are longer than the platforms
and as a result some (or all) of the doors in some carriages remain closed. This is Seven Kings.
to come.
Long Platforms

The brand new subterranean stations have been built with platforms long enough for 12 coach trains, should passenger numbers rise very significantly. But, just about every surface station would also need their platforms lengthening before such even longer trains could be brought in to service.

Elizabeth line Farringdon platform. . Elizabeth line Tottenham Court Road curved platform.
At underground stations the platforms were built long enough for a future possibility of even longer trains.
In this view the section of platform screen wall behind the back of the train does not have doors as trains do not stop alongside it.
At Farringdon the platforms are 244 metres in length.
. Most new-build stations have straight platforms but
Tottenham Court Road eastbound features a gentle curve.
Elizabeth Line Trains

The Elizabeth line uses 70 air-conditioned trains which feature a fully walk-through internal design, electronic (visual and audible) real-time information, CCTV, Wi-Fi and 4g. However there are no USB power sockets. Each carriage is 24 metres long and to help minimise station stop dwell times they have three pairs of plug doors on each side.

Each train has four wheelchair spaces with tip-up / folding seats for other passengers plus ten groups of folding / tip-up longitudinal seating (spread out throughout the train) which create multi-user spaces for luggage (eg: on airport journeys) and parents with children in pushchairs / buggies / strollers.

The first of the new trains arrived in London in December 2016 and the final new train arrived in December 2021. The train type is the Bombardier Aventra. In the British train naming scheme these trains are known as Class 345.

Class 345 train inside transverse longitudinal seating. . Class 345 train inside solely longitudinal seating.
Some coaches feature a mix of longitudinal and transverse seating.
Longitudinal seats have fixed armrests whilst transverse seats have folding armrests.
. Some coaches only offer longitudinal seating.
This includes the coaches with the wheelchair spaces.
Class 345 train inside tip up seating wheelchair bay. . seat fabric colour palette Class 345 train Crossrail Elizabeth line.
There are four wheelchair places per train. These have glass screens on one side plus tip-up / folding seats for use by other passengers when the space is not needed by wheelchair users. . Class 345 trains have the same seat fabric pattern as the London Overground trains and Tramlink trams but use a different colour palette. On the left is a 'priority seat' - these are for infirm people who can walk and these use yet another colour palette.
Class 345 TFL Rail Elizabeth line real-time information display messages. . inside Class 345 train near drivers cab.
Some of the messages seen on the electronic real-time information displays. The trains also have traditional paper route maps! . An internal view inside looking towards a driver's cab.

When first introduced in to service these trains had just 7 coaches and were about 160 metres long. This was much longer than the 5 coach Class 360 trains they displaced on the former Heathrow Connect service between Paddington and Heathrow Airport and about the same length as the 8 coach Class 315 trains they displaced on the London - Shenfield route.

However their 7 coach format was only a temporary stop-gap until many station platforms could be lengthened. By May 2022 all but three trains had been lengthened to be 200 metres long with 9 coaches, 450 seats and an estimated total passenger capacity of 1,500 people.

The remaining three shorter trains are used on west London services from Paddington station.

By way of comparison, when the line between Liverpool Street and Shenfield was electrified in 1949 it used 9 coach trains that were 163 metres long and had 528 seats in their original format and 504 seats (in 2 + 2 format) after rebuilding when the electric power supply system was changed from 1500v DC to 6.25kv AC and 25Kv AC. Part of the reduction in seating capacity was because there were more longitudinal seats as this facilitated an increase standing space.
Although a similar length, the 8 carriage Class 315 trains had 632 seats - mostly in 3 + 2 format - but far less space for crush loaded standing passengers in the rush hours.


The brand new deep level tube train tunnels and the Abbey Wood branch use radio Communications-Based Train Control (CBTC) moving block signalling with Automatic Train Operation (ATO) and Automatic Train Protection (ATP). To allow train frequencies to increase the signalling is designed for up to 30 trains per hour.

The historic sections of railway on either side of London are equipped with the legacy Train Protection Warning System (TPWS) and all trains are driven in the traditional way - by a human train driver.

The section of railway Hayes & Harlington - Heathrow Airport is equipped with the European Train Control System (ETCS) Level 2.

CBTC Signalling Sign Elizabeth line Stratford. . Class 345 061 train destination Heathrow T5.
Sign at platform 8, Stratford station telling eastbound Elizabeth line train drivers that they are leaving a section of track which has been equipped for Communications-Based Train Control (CBTC) signalling. . 345 061 going to Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 at Ealing Broadway station, in the background can be seen a Central line 1992ts train.
Class 345 train Heathrow Airport railway station Terminals 2 and 3. . Class 345 train Heathrow Airport railway station Terminal 5.
Class 345 trains at Heathrow Airport - the station for terminals 2 and 3 left and the station for terminal 5 right.

Two Overlapping Services

It is always expected that the Elizabeth line will usually operate as two overlapping services:
1) Shenfield - Paddington / Heathrow Airport and
2) Abbey Wood - Paddington / Heathrow Airport / Reading.

All trains will travel as far west as Paddington station plus some trains from both Shenfield and Abbey Wood will continue on to Heathrow Airport, but only trains from Abbey Wood will also serve stations between West Drayton and Maidenhead / Reading.

The reason for this is to reduce the likelihood of delays in one part of London from causing delays in another part of London Passengers wanting a destination not served by their train will be able to change train by waiting on the same platform.

In the rush hours there are also additional trains on the Great Eastern Main Line that serve the existing mainline (above ground) Liverpool Street station instead of travelling via the tunnels. This is because this extremely busy route needs more trains than those which travel through the tunnels and the platforms at the existing Liverpool Street station are more convenient for the many people who work in the local area.

Part of the funding for the construction of the Elizabeth line has come from London's second financial centre at Canary Wharf. One of the conditions of their investment is that at least 50% of trains on the Abbey Wood branch serve Heathrow Airport.

Heathrow Express To Remain

Although the 'all stations' Heathrow Connect (HeC) no longer exists as a specialist named train service the Heathrow Express (HeX) will continue as a dedicated non-stop premium service which links Paddington station with Heathrow Airport. Being a premium service it also charges much higher / premium fares. The HeX trains also include a First Class seating area and one of the perks offered to passengers is priority access (avoiding the queues) to security / passport control at Heathrow Airport.

Sampling The New Class 345 TFL Rail / Crossrail / Elizabeth Line Trains

film projector icon

Three films showing the Class 345 trains when first introduced have been placed on the ‘YouTube’ film / video website and can either be watched via the embeded displays or on the YouTube website in new windows by clicking the links below the films.

1) The first train arrives in London - seen passing through Stratford station

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZsIDjCImUBs .

2) The first day of service - and looking at some of the trains they replaced

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NblaJ2hMd78 .

3) Exploring the new trains

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mhn_7VLkPRk .

These links lead to interesting sources of information about the introduction of these trains in to passenger service: .

. . .
. .
London Underground
Small Profile ‘Tube’ Trains
. .
London Underground
Large Profile
‘Subsurface’ Trains
. .
National Rail ‘Tube’ Trains .
this page
. .
Other National Rail Trains .
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Local Light Railways .
. .
General Information .
. .

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This page last updated 8th January 2023
E & OE.
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