Elizabeth Line at Liverpool Street, Photo by @nickharrison
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A Brief History of the Elizabeth Line: Connecting Whitechapel to the West

Here’s what you need to know about the railway that has opened up the East End to the rest of the country.

The Elizabeth Line is London’s first accessible railway, connecting East London neighbourhoods like Whitechapel to Heathrow Airport and Reading, in addition to mainline termini Liverpool Street and Paddington.

The east-to-west railway officially opened on 24 May 2022, with the full peak timetable only coming into action a year later on 22 May 2023. 

The Crossrail project has been decades in the making. In fact, the idea of an east-to-west tube railway linking mainline termini was first proposed in 1919 and then again in 1943. The project as we know it was first green-lit by the then prime minister Gordon Brown in 2007. Construction began at Canary Wharf in 2009 and tunnelling– 42 kilometres worth– in 2012.

Whilst the crossrail was initially allocated a budget of £14.8 billion in 2010, the National Audit Office estimates that the final cost was approximately £18.9 billion. 

Elizabeth Line at Liverpool Street
Elizabeth Line, Photo by @nickharrison

That being said, as of June 2023, the Elizabeth Line is on track to breaking even by the end of the 2023/24 financial year. This is due to its remarkable success: in its first week alone, more than 2.5 million journeys were made on the entire route. Now, it averages 3.5 million journeys each week, with around 600,000 on weekdays. Stops like Whitechapel have seen an influx of commuters: TFL estimates an additional 60, 000 people pass through the station every day.

As part of the project, Whitechapel Station had its very own makeover. Alongside a brand-new, futuristic-looking ticket hall and concourse, the station now features Bengali signage. Tower Hamlets Council funded the installation of English and Bengali dual-language signs, which nod towards the importance and contribution of the British-Bangladeshi community. Tower Hamlets is home to the largest concentration of British-Bangladeshi residents and professionals, making the inclusion of Bengali signage particularly meaningful.

Whitechapel is one of the very few stations in the TFL network to have such dual-language signage.

Elizabeth Line Whitechapel Station illustration
Whitechapel on the Elizabeth Line, Drawing by @alison.gardiner.art

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