UK Transport Wiki
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This page focuses on the Crossrail project, rather than the operator 'Elizabeth line' which can be found here, alternatively, the current operator, TfL rail can be found here.


Crossrail logo

TypeCommuter rail, Suburban rail
SystemNational Rail
StatusUnder Construction
LocaleSouth East England
Greater London
East of England
TerminiMaidenhead / Heathrow Terminal 4
Shenfield / Abbey Wood
Stations39 (Planned)
Opened2018 (Planned)
OwnerNetwork Rail
Rolling stockNXEMU
No. of tracks2
Track gaugeStandard gauge {{#switch:sg
|3mm=3 mm (0.118 in)
|4mm=4 mm (0.157 in)
|4.5mm=4.5 mm (0.177 in)
|4.8mm=4.8 mm (0.189 in)
|6.5mm=6.5 mm (0.256 in)
|6.53mm=6.53 mm (0.257 in)
|8mm=8 mm (0.315 in)
|8.97mm=8.97 mm (0.353 in)
|9mm=9 mm (0.354 in)
|9.42mm=9.42 mm (0.371 in)
|10.5mm=10.5 mm (0.413 in)
|11.94mm=11.94 mm (0.470 in)
|12mm=12 mm (0.472 in)
|12.7mm=12.7 mm (0.5 in)
|13mm=13 mm (0.512 in)
|13.5mm=13.5 mm (0.531 in)
|14mm=14 mm (0.551 in)
|14.125mm=14.125 mm (0.556 in)
|14.2mm=14.2 mm (0.559 in)
|14.28mm=14.28 mm (0.562 in)
|14.3mm=14.3 mm (0.563 in)
|15.76mm=15.76 mm (0.620 in)
Electrification25 kV 50hz AC
Operating speedBelow 100 mph (Template:Convert/outsep)
 [v  d  e] Crossrail 1
Protected route  
  Reading Central 12px
 Maidenhead 12px
 Slough 12px
Heathrow Terminal 4 10px London Underground 
x20px Template:BS-alt
Heathrow Central 10px London Underground 
x20px Template:BS-alt
x20px Template:BS-alt
 West Drayton
x20px x20px
 Hayes and Harlington
 West Ealing 12px
 Ealing Broadway London Underground
 Acton Main Line
 Old Oak Common 12px
  Paddington London Underground 12px
  Bond Street London Underground
  Tottenham Court Road London Underground
  Farringdon London Underground 12px
  Liverpool Street London Underground 12px
  Whitechapel 10px London Underground
Canary Wharf London Underground 10px  
x20px x20px
x20px x20px
Custom House 10px  
x20px x20px
  Stratford London Underground 10px 10px 12px
Connaught Tunnel  
x20px Template:BS-alt
River Thames  
x20px Template:BS-alt
  Forest Gate
x20px Template:BS-alt
  Manor Park
Abbey Wood for Thamesmead 12px  
x20px Template:BS-alt
x20px Template:BS-alt
  Seven Kings
x20px Template:BS-alt
Slade Green  
x20px Template:BS-alt
  Chadwell Heath
Dartford 12px  
x20px Template:BS-alt
  Romford 12px
Stone Crossing  
x20px Template:BS-alt
  Gidea Park
Greenhithe for Bluewater  
x20px Template:BS-alt
  Harold Wood
x20px Template:BS-alt
x20px x20px
  Shenfield 12px
Gravesend 12px  
Protected route to Hoo Junction  

Crossrail is a project to build major new railway connections under central London. The project's name refers to the first of two routes which are the responsibility of Crossrail Ltd. It is based around an east-west tunnel with a central section from Paddington to Liverpool Street station. The second route is the Chelsea–Hackney line. The project was approved in October 2007 and the Crossrail Act received Royal Assent in July 2008.

Services will complement the enhanced north-south Thameslink route. Ten-carriage trains will run at frequencies of up to 24 trains per hour (tph) in each direction through the central tunnel section.

The original planned schedule was that the first trains would run in 2017. In 2010 a Comprehensive Spending Review saving over £1bn of the £15.9bn projected costs meant that the first trains are now planned to run on the central section in 2018.


Planning and financing[]

Robert Stephenson proposed to extend the main line from Euston terminus through a tunnel under Gower Street and Covent Garden to the Savoy Wharf on the Thames in 1836. Plans were not progressed due to the limitations of steam trains.[1]

The Central London Rail Study of 1989 proposed an East-West Crossrail (now 'Crossrail') and in 1991, a Bill was submitted to Parliament for the scheme. The bill was rejected in 1994 due to the recession at the time.[1]

In 2001 Cross London Rail Links, a 50/50 joint venture company, was formed to develop and promote the scheme and also a Wimbledon-Hackney scheme. In 2003 and 2004 over 50 days of exhibitions were held to explain the proposals at over 30 different locations.[1]

The Crossrail Bill 2005, a Hybrid Bill went through Parliament. The Crossrail Bill Select Committee met between December 2005 and October 2007.[2] The select Committee announced an interim decision in July 2006 which called on the Promoter to add a station at Woolwich. The Government initially responded that it will not do so as it would jeopardise the affordability of the whole scheme but a subsequent agreement has made this possible.

In February 2008, the Bill moved to the House of Lords where it was debated, amended and scrutinised by a Committee of peers. The Act received Royal Assent on 22 July 2008 as the Crossrail Act 2008.[3] The Bill is accompanied by an Environmental Impact Statement, plans and other related information.[4] The bill gives Cross London Rail Links the powers necessary to construct the line. In November 2008, while announcing an agreement for a £230m contribution from BAA, Transport Minister Lord Adonis confirmed that funding was still in place in spite of the global economic downturn.[5] On 4 December 2008 it was announced that Transport for London and the Department for Transport had signed the Crossrail Sponsors’ Agreement. This commits them to financing the project, then projected to be £15.9bn, alongside contributions from Network Rail, BAA and the City of London. The accompanying Crossrail Sponsors' Requirements commits them to the construction of the full scheme.Template:Cite

Gordon Brown and Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London attended a ceremony at Canary Wharf on 15 May 2009 when construction of the project started.[6] On 7 September 2009, the project received £1bn in funding. The money is being lent to Transport for London by the European Investment Bank.[7]

In the lead up to the 2010 UK General Election, both the Labour Party and Conservative Party made manifesto commitments to deliver the railway. The new Transport Secretary, appointed in May 2010, confirmed that the new coalition government was committed to the project[8]. The original planned schedule was that first trains would run in 2017. In 2010 a Comprehensive Spending Review identified savings of over £1bn in projected costs. The bulk of this would be saved by a simpler tunnelling strategy which would reduce the number of tunnel boring machines and access shafts required. However construction progress would be slower and it means that the first trains are now planned to run on the central section in 2018.[9]



Construction equipment for the Royal Oak Crossrail Portal, looking towards Paddington

In April 2009, Crossrail announced that 17 firms had secured 'Enabling Works Framework Agreements' and these companies would now be able to compete for packages of enabling works.

Work on the route itself officially began on 15 May 2009 with the commencement of piling works at the future Canary Wharf station.[10]

The threat of diseases being released by work on the Crossrail project was originally raised by Lord James of Blackheath at the passing of the Crossrail Bill. Lord James told the House of Lords Crossrail Bill select committee that 682 victims of anthrax had been brought into Smithfield in Farringdon with some contaminated meat in 1520 and then buried in the area.[11] On 24 June 2009 it was reported that no traces of anthrax or bubonic plague had been found on human bone fragments found during tunnelling work.[12]

Invitations to tender for the two principal tunnelings contracts were published in the Official Journal of the European Union in August 2009. 'Tunnels West' was for twin Template:Convert/LoffAoffDbSoff long tunnels from Royal Oak through to the new Crossrail Farringdon Station with a portal west of Paddington. The 'Tunnels East' request was for three tunnel sections and 'launch chambers' in east London.[13]

By September 2009 preparatory work for the £1billion developments at Tottenham Court Road station had begun, with a number of buildings (including the Astoria Theatre) being compulsorily purchased and demolished.[14]

In March 2010 contracts were awarded to a number of civil engineering companies for the second round of 'enabling work' including 'Royal Oak Portal Taxi Facility Demolition', 'Demolition works for Crossrail Bond Street Station', 'Demolition works for Crossrail Tottenham Court Road Station' and 'Pudding Mill Lane Portal'.[15]


The Crossrail line is based around a new set of east-west tunnels under central London connecting the Great Western Main Line near Paddington to the Great Eastern Main Line near Stratford. An eastern branch diverges at Whitechapel, running through Docklands and emerging at Custom House on a disused part of the North London Line, then under the River Thames, to Abbey Wood. Trains will run from Maidenhead and Heathrow in the west to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east, taking over the existing stopping services on those routes.

The tunnelled section of the line will be about Template:Convert/LoffAoffDbSoff in length. Tunnel construction will be difficult and expensive because of London’s geology, and the extensive tunnelling that already exists in central London. The twin circular tunnels will have an internal diameter of Template:Convert/m,[16] compared with the Template:Convert/m diameter of existing deep Tube lines. Rather than the fourth rail electrification used by the London Underground or third rail on the existing North Kent line, Crossrail will use 25 kV, 50 Hz AC overhead line, as on the Great Eastern Main Line and the Great Western Main Line as far as Heathrow. The central tunnelled section will weave between existing Tube and road tunnels.[16] All new lines will be electrified at 25 kV AC 50 Hz, and overhead electrification will be installed between Heathrow Airport junction and Maidenhead.


Western section[]

The western section is to be built at the surface with the main route running from Maidenhead to Acton Main Line Station with a underground spur to Heathrow. The main route will include upgrading all the stations: Maidenhead, Taplow, Burnham, Slough, Langley, Iver, West Drayton, Hayes and Harlington, Southall, Hanwell, West Ealing, Ealing Broadway and Acton Main Line.

The Heathrow branch includes stations at Heathrow Terminal 4 and Heathrow Central and will join the main route at Airport Junction, between West Drayton and Hayes & Harlington.[citation needed]

The following additional stations were protected in October 2009: Reading Central, Twyford[citation needed]

Central section[]

The central tunnels run from Acton Main Line station to Whitechapel with further tunnelling to Stratford and to Canary Wharf.

There will be new subterranean stations at Paddington, Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road, Farringdon, Liverpool Street, Whitechapel and the Canary Wharf, each offering interchange with the London Underground, National Rail or the Docklands Light Railway. Due to the size and positioning of new platforms required for these stations some will be directly connected to multiple underground stations.

Eastern sections[]

Whitechapel to Shenfield[]

This section runs underground from Whitechapel as far as Stratford and then at surface level for the rest of the route on an existing route.

It will use the following stations: Stratford, Maryland, Forest Gate, Manor Park, Ilford, Seven Kings, Goodmayes, Chadwell Heath, Romford, Gidea Park, Harold Wood, Brentwood, Shenfield

Maryland was not included until 7 August 2006 when selective door opening was agreed so that the station would be accessible.[17]

Whitechapel to Abbey Wood[]

The section runs underground from Whitechapel to Canary Wharf and then at surface level as far as Abbey Wood. This section running under the Thames at North Woolwich and including a new station at Woolwich. It connects the reused former part of the North London Line with the North Kent Line.

  • Canary Wharf (new station under construction) Formerly called 'Isle of Dogs'
  • Custom House (additional facilities)
  • Silvertown (not expected to be opened straight away, but a possible station at a later date)
  • Woolwich (new station)
  • Abbey Wood for Thamesmead (existing tracks will need re-alignment)

The following stations are on the protected route extension to Gravesend as of October 2009: Belvedere, Erith, Slade Green, Dartford, Stone Crossing, Greenhithe for Bluewater, Swanscombe, Northfleet, Gravesend


On the central segment, between Paddington and Whitechapel, stations will be served by 24 trains per hour (tph). To the east, this service splits into 12tph on the Abbey Wood branch and 12tph on the Shenfield branch (supplemented by 6tph national rail service along the Shenfield corridor into Liverpool Street). To the west, 14tph will terminate at Paddington. The remaining 10tph continue to Hayes and Harlington with 4tph branching off to Heathrow (supplemented by a further 4 Heathrow Express trains), 2tph continuing one stop more to West Drayton and the last 4tph continuing all the way to Maidenhead. A more detailed service pattern will be formulated closer to Crossrail's launch.[18]

Rolling stock[]

It is intended to order a fleet of fixed-formation ten-car new trains.[19] They will be 200 metres long. It is anticipated that sufficient will be built to enable 57 trains to be in service at peak hours. It is expected that this will lead to an order for around 63 trains in total. They are planned to have speeds up to Template:Convert/LoffAoffDbSoff on the surface parts of the route and up to Template:Convert/LoffAoffDbSoff in the tunnels.[20] It is envisaged, as part of the government's rolling stock plan, that the stock for Crossrail will be similar to the new rolling stock planned for the Thameslink Programme and will displace other types of multiple unit currently used on the Great Eastern and Great Western routes for use elsewhere on the network.[21] The trains will be disabled-accessible, including dedicated areas for wheelchairs, have audio and visual announcements, include CCTV and have speaker phones to the driver in case of emergency.[22]

On 27 September 2010, Crossrail Limited announced: "New Crossrail trains will be based on tried and tested designs - designing a new train from scratch drives up the overall cost of rolling stock and is unnecessary to meet Sponsor's requirements."[23]


Crossrail ticketing is intended to be integrated with the other London transport systems, with Oyster Card Pay As You Go being valid on the entire line. Travelcards will be valid within Greater London with the exception of the Heathrow branch, which will continue to be subject to special fares.[citation needed] Crossrail has often been compared to Paris's RER system due to the length of the central tunnel. Crossrail will be integrated with the London Underground and National Rail networks, and it is expected that Crossrail will appear on the standard London Underground Map.


Crossrail requires significant work on new stations, with 10 new sets of platforms being built. MostTemplate:Which? existing stations on the route will receive platform extensions, and a significant numberTemplate:Which? will be completely rebuilt. Of the 37 stations, 28 will have disabled access to both platforms; in particular, train doors will be level with the platforms in central stations and at Heathrow. The stations will be fully equipped with CCTV.[22]

Future options[]

Maidenhead to Reading extension[]

The Great Western Electrification project, announced in July 2009, will complement the Crossrail project and provide electrification to the Great Western Main Line westwards from Maidenhead to Reading and beyond. The UK Government and Transport for London are now considering extending Crossrail services from Maidenhead to Reading from the outset.[24]

Extending Crossrail to Reading is looking more attractive since the Government has announced that the Great Western Main Line will be electrified to Swansea in Wales.[25]

Gravesend extension[]

The route to Gravesend has been safeguarded by the Department for Transport, although it was made clear that there was as of February 2008 no plan to extend Crossrail beyond the then-current scheme.[26]

Chelsea-Hackney line (Crossrail line 2)[]

Main article: Chelsea–Hackney line

Cross London Rail Links Ltd has inherited London Underground's aborted "Chelsea-Hackney Line" plans, sometimes also referred to as the "Merton-Hackney". A route for this has been safeguarded since 1991, and a 2007 consultation to renew the safeguarding gives the following route:[27]

Currently this line is known as the Chelsea - Hackney line and will not be built until after Crossrail 1 and probably also UK high speed rail which itself will not likely begin construction until after Crossrail 1 completes (thereby meeting previously stated government aims to develop transferable skills from one major project to the next, as well as retaining established supply chains)[citation needed] The current scheme is somewhat vague as to whether it will be built to National Rail or London Underground standards and take existing commuter services. The route protection also includes a branch south from Victoria station underneath Battersea Park in the direction of Clapham Junction although not reaching that station.[28] Clapham Junction is shown as an interchange with Crossrail 2 on TfL's East London Line route map.[29]

Old Oak Common / Kensal[]

As part of the former Labour government's plans for the High Speed 2 rail link from London to Birmingham, a new Crossrail-High Speed 2 interchange would be built at Old Oak Common (between Paddington and Acton Main Line stations). This station would be built as part of High Speed 2 (which would start construction, under Labour's plans, in 2017), so would not be built in the first phase of Crossrail, and would offer interchange to other mainline and TfL lines.

Lord Mawhinney, a former Conservative Transport Secretary, has concluded that the London terminus for HS2 should at Old Oak Common (which would have a interchange with Crossrail) and not at London Euston. These statements go against the Conservatives' initial idea that Old Oak Common should not even be built. This is because of tunnelling cost along with fast turnaround times and good connections at Old Oak Common. Also Lord Mawhinney says: "Does it make sense to have HS2 terminate at Euston and High Speed 1 separately at St Pancras, with no connection between the two?".[30]

Regardless of whether a station is built at that location, the local Kensington and Chelsea council have been pushing for a station at that location (under the name of Kensal/Kensal Rise/Kensal Green) as a turn back facility is needed in that area and by placing it at Kensal Rise, rather than next to Paddington itself, would provide a new station to regenerate the area.[31][32][33]


Crossrail Ltd[]

Crossrail will be built by Crossrail Limited which was jointly owned by Transport for London and the Department for Transport until December 2008, when full ownership was transferred to TfL. Crossrail has a £15.9 billion funding package in place[34] for the construction of the line.


Some east London politicians objected to the scheme, which they saw as an expensive west to east commuter service that will primarily benefit City and Docklands businesses and bring enormous disruption to East London.[35] As a result, the tunnelling strategy was changed to remove excavated material by barge from Leamouth rather than the originally proposed complex conveyor system in Mile End.

Some freight train operating companies, including the former English, Welsh and Scottish Railway Ltd (EWS), opposed the current plans because they claimed that they would use up much of the remaining rail capacity within the London area and do not provide the necessary extra capacity on connecting lines. This would make it harder to route freight services from the southern ports to the north and will increase freight transit times.

There had been complaints from London music fans, as the redevelopment of the area forced the closure of a number of historic music venues. The London Astoria,[36] the Astoria 2, The Metro, Sin nightclub and The Ghetto have been demolished to allow expansion of the ticket hall and congestion relief at Tottenham Court Road tube station in advance of the arrival of Crossrail.

There was considerable annoyance in Reading that Crossrail would terminate at Maidenhead, not Reading.[37] However both the promoters and the government had always insisted that there was nothing to prevent extension to Reading in future if it could be justified. In February 2008 it was announced that the route for an extension to Reading was being protected.[38] This has become more likely now that the government has announced that the Great Western Main Line will be electrified all the way to Swansea.

In February 2010, Crossrail was accused of bullying residents whose property lay on the Crossrail route into selling for far less than the market value.[39] A subsequent London Assembly report was highly critical of the insensitive way that Crossrail had dealt with compulsory purchases and the lack of assistance given to the people and businesses affected.[40]

Earlier proposals[]

1974 proposal[]

A report by a committee chaired by David Barran in 1974 recommended, alongside the development of the Fleet Line to Fenchurch Street and the River Line project, two new deep-level railway lines, one linking Paddington and Liverpool Street, via Marble Arch and Ludgate Circus; and another linking London Bridge and Victoria. The cost of these two links, along with the re-opening of the Snow Hill tunnel to form Thameslink, was estimated at £300 million.[41]

1990s proposal[]

An east-west route was again proposed in the early 1990s[42]. A Bill was introduced into Parliament, promoted by London Underground and British Rail, and supported by the government, but was rejected by the Private Bill Committee in 1994.[43] This service even went as far as preparatory work on rolling stock, with concept drawings for what was planned to be Class 341 trains released. A number of alternative routes on the west side were considered, including regional services to Amersham and Watford in the north-west, Reading in the west. All have now been dropped in favour of the core proposal.

Dropped routes[]

Various routes have been included in earlier drafts of the Crossrail scheme, but no longer feature. These include:

  • Paddington to Kingston upon Thames via Richmond, part of the "preferred route" published in 2003, but dropped in 2004 due to a combination of local opposition, uncertainty over the route, cost and an insufficient return on the envisaged investment. This would conceivably have run either overland or via a tunnel to the existing track through Gunnersbury and Kew (which would no longer be used by the District Line), and thence to Richmond and Kingston on existing mainline track.
  • A south-eastern route beyond Abbey Wood to Dartford and Northfleet, connecting with High Speed 1. This was rejected due to the need to share track with existing services, leading to potential performance pollution. However much of this route has been revived in the safeguarding directive for Abbey Wood-Gravesend.
  • A north-western route to Aylesbury, taking over Chiltern services. This originally used the Dudding Hill Line, and later involved a new tunnel. Other branches in this direction to High Wycombe and Watford Junction were also proposed. None of these made it past the 2003 route consultation.

Alternative proposed routes[]

Aylesbury Branch[]

This branch would have taken over Metropolitan and Chiltern Railways lines from Baker Street and Marylebone to Aylesbury (including the Chesham branch). Crossrail would run via the Dudden Hill line or a tunnel to Neasden Junction, where it would run to Harrow using the fast mainlines. The fast lines north of Harrow would be exclusively used by Crossrail trains. A new station would have been built at Northwood to allow an interchange between Met and Crossrail lines. The Metropolitan line would have terminated at Rickmansworth instead of Amersham. A few remaining Chiltern services to Aylesbury would have been routed via High Wycombe and Princes Risborough.

Richmond Branch[]

This branch would have taken over the District line from Turnham Green to Richmond, and then to Kingston in tunnel. However, opposition from residents and politicians in Richmond, the expected cost and an insufficient return on the envisaged investment caused this proposed route not to be pursued in the hybrid Bill.

Hounslow Branch[]

Following the decision to halt progress on development on a Richmond branch, Hounslow council had attempted to get a route from Paddington through to Hounslow using an existing railway route (so no tunnelling would have been required).

See also[]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 You must specify title = and url = when using {{cite web}}.. Crossrail. Retrieved on 2009-12-30.
  2. Crossrail Bill Select Committee. Retrieved on 2009-12-30.
  3. Crossrail Bill 2005. Crossrail. Retrieved on 2009-12-30.[dead link]
  4. Orders of the Day — Crossrail Bill. (2005-07-19). Retrieved on 2007-03-23.
  5. Template:Cite news
  6. Template:Cite news
  7. Template:Cite news
  8. Template:Cite news
  9. Mayor secures vital London transport investment and protects frontline services. TfL (20 October 2010).
  10. Work officially starts on Crossrail - PHOTOS,, accessed 2009-05-17
  11. House of Lords - Crossrail Bill Examination of Witnesses (Questions 12705 - 12719). (2008). Retrieved on 2009-06-24.
  12. Template:Cite news
  13. Crossrail tunnelling contracts advertised. Crossrail (2009-08-25). Retrieved on 2010-03-17.[dead link]
  14. Crossrail station profile: Tottenham Court Road. New Civil engineer. Retrieved on 2009=12-30.
  15. Crossrail to awards second round of enabling contracts. New Civil Engineer (2010-03-16). Retrieved on 2010-03-17.
  16. 16.0 16.1 Tunnelling. Crossrail. Retrieved on November 19, 2010.
  17. Plans for London's Crossrail project. Planning Resource. Retrieved on 2010-03-26.[dead link]
  18. Timetabling, Crossrail
  19. [1]
  20. Crossrail information: Rolling Stock
  21. DfT Rolling Stock Plan. Department for Transport. Retrieved on 2010-03-26.
  22. 22.0 22.1 Designed for all, Crossrail
  23. You must specify title = and url = when using {{cite web}}.. Crossrail. Retrieved on 27 September 2010.
  24. Britain’s Transport Infrastructure - Rail Electrification. Department for Transport (July 2009).
  25. Crossrail to Reading would keep it on track.
  26. Harris, Tom (2008-02-06). Crossrail Safeguarding Update 2008. Department for Transport. Retrieved on 2008-02-16.[dead link]
  27. Crossrail Chelsea-Hackney Line site
  28. Crossrail Chelsea-Hackney Line Safeguarding Directions Consultation Drawings
  29. East London Railway extensions. Retrieved on 2008-02-23.
  30. Template:Cite news
  34. "The future of Crossrail. House of Commons (2007-11-05).
  35. Orders of the Day — Crossrail Bill. (2005-07-19). Retrieved on 2007-03-23.
  36. Template:Cite news
  37. Big guns back Crossrail. Get Reading. Retrieved on 2010-03-26.
  38. Template:Cite news
  39. Boris Johnson takes on the 'bullies' evicting residents to make way for Crossrail. (2010-02-10). Retrieved on 2010-02-10.
  40. Light at the end of the tunnel (2010-02-23). Retrieved on 2010-02-24.
  41. Template:Cite news
  42. Template:Cite news
  43. Crossrail. Hansard (1994-06-20).

External links[]