New rail line in London, the 'Elizabeth line,' named for the monarch

Transport for London will be opening the new rail line in December 2018 to ease travel delays and reduce congestion across the city.

Richard Pohle/Pool/Reuters
Britain's Queen Elizabeth attends the formal unveiling of the new logo for Crossrail, which is to be named the Elizabeth line, at the construction site of the Bond Street station in central London (February 23, 2016).

London is about to open a rail line fit for a queen.

The mayor of London, Boris Johnson, announced Tuesday that the new "Tube" line currently under construction will be named the Elizabeth line, after the United Kingdom’s longest-serving monarch.

At the event, with the queen in attendance, Mr. Johnson said, “I think it’s truly wonderful that such a significant line for our capital, will carry such a significant name from our country. As well as radically improving travel right across our city, the Elizabeth line will provide a lasting tribute to our longest-serving monarch.”

Of course, the Elizabeth line is not the first to bear the name of an English monarch. The Victoria line, named for Queen Victoria, was opened in 1969.

Transport for London (TfL) says that the Elizabeth line, when completed, will boost London’s economy and infrastructure by many billions of pounds. For comparison, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) estimates that for every $1 billion that is invested in public transportation in the United States, 24,000 jobs – those both directly and indirectly related to the industry – are created. The APTA also estimates that every $1 billion invested in public transportation also yields an economic impact of approximately $3 billion.

TfL estimates that the Elizabeth line will serve approximately 200 million people every year through service at 40 different stations in London, ten of which will be newly built just for this project. The other thirty are scheduled for renovation.

TfL also estimates that the Elizabeth line will improve rail capacity in England’s capital by approximately 10 percent. Research has shown that reducing congestion, in any city, can lead to positive shifts in consumer spending and also reduces operating costs for businesses, which in turn may provide other economic benefits.

Congestion on the Tube and overcrowding at stations is a persistent problem in London and has risen dramatically in recent years. Figures from TfL show that the Jubilee line is the worst affected, with the number of incidents of service disruption rising to 90 in 2015. Those incidents alone resulted in more than 129,200 hours of extra travel time.

Stations are also severely impacted by congestion. Oxford Circus, one of London’s busiest stations, was closed more than 113 times last year, a rate of nearly once every three days, as a result of overcrowding. TfL partly attributes the closures and delays to rerouting from Tottenham Court Road, which is being renovated and expanded to reduce congestion.

The new trains for the Elizabeth line will boast wireless Internet and air conditioning. They will also use an energy-management system that regenerates energy back into the train when it brakes to increase efficiency. The line is scheduled to open in December 2018 between Paddington and Abbey Wood, ultimately extending to Reading and Terminal 4 at Heathrow by December 2019.  

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