2022 is a big year for Queen Elizabeth II.
As a nation we’re celebrating her Platinum Jubilee and the opening of the Elizabeth Line. A long awaited extension to the London Underground.
A Landmark Year
February 6th 2022 saw Queen Elizabeth II’s 70th year on the throne. The UK is holding a belated celebration being held from Thursday 2nd of June till Sunday 5th of June. The reason for the delayed celebration being that the 6th of February also marks the anniversary of her father’s, King George VI, death in 1952. Whether you are using the extended bank holiday to celebrate our Monarch, or just simply celebrating having a 4 day bank holiday weekend as the days grow hotter and the sun sets later, we are all excited for the first week of June to roll around. Alongside the Platinum Jubilee, the UK has celebrated the opening of the Elizabeth Line. A long awaited addition to the London Underground announced 14 years ago and named in the Queen’s honour.
The Elizabeth Line, costing £18.9 billion, opened on the 24th of May 2022 coincidentally coinciding with the upcoming Jubilee. It is a coincidence for the fact that the Elizabeth Line, was originally set to open in 2018. The Crossrail project saw a 4 year delay. Additionally, the initial estimated cost skyrocketed from £15.9 bn to the final cost of £18.9 bn. Many of us may see this price amidst a climate where food, fuel, and energy prices are increasing and question how the mammoth cost of this new line can be justified?
The impact of the Elizabeth Line on Underground travel in London
For those living in London and the surrounding areas this addition is a welcome one in terms of commuting. The Elizabeth Line is a saving grace from the crammed journeys many of us have experienced travelling on the Underground. It is one more line to connect central tube stops and hopefully give us all a bit of breathing room and space back when we flood onto the trains. 5/10 of the stops are in central London and the train is a 9 carriage state-of-the-art model that can accommodate 1,500 passengers. The new platforms promise to provide step-free access which in turn opens many routes into central London for those with disabilities. The new line projected to accommodate a staggering 200 million passengers annually. This increases the capacity of London’s train network by 10%. I don’t think many of us could physically imagine more people crammed into the Underground!
This new addition to the Underground has created a direct connection to Reading and Heathrow airport. This is a link that is opening in Autumn 2022. With UTP’s head office being situated in Reading this is extremely relevant. It allows easier commute from Reading to London and vice versa. An additional 1.5 million people will now be within a 45 commuting distance from London’s central stations. This makes London more accessible and in the same breath it allows easier and greater access to our Reading office. Sadiq Khan has commented on the new line, saying ‘It’s the biggest expansion in our transport network for more than 50 years. These trains are speedy, spacious, silent, comfortable’. The new rail is a £18.9 billion step for taxpayers and a giant leap for London Underground commuting.
Now when visiting London we should now add the new line as a tourist attraction. Alongside visiting the London Eye and Buckingham palace, we should take a trip on the Elizabeth Line. Considering as taxpayers we all played our part to pay for it.