The Queen has visited the completed central London section of the Elizabeth Line ahead of its launch – with connections to Heathrow expected in autumn.
Her Majesty unveiled a plaque which will have a permanent place at Paddington Station in advance of the start of services next Tuesday when trains will run regularly from Paddington to Abbey Wood in east London.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan described the service as “the most significant addition to our transport network in decades” and it will mean an important enhancement in east-west travel across the capital.
Planning and construction has taken many years and it has been hailed as momentous engineering project with 42 km of new railway tunnels crossing the River Thames three times. At one time eight giant tunnel boring machines were operating under the streets of London to create the system.
Heathrow already has excellent fast services to Paddington Station via the Heathrow Express but the journey onwards into London using the antiquated tube network has hitherto been slow and difficult. The Elizabeth Line will significantly change things with fast, comfortable journeys into the West End, the City and Docklands. Trains are expected to run at approximately every three minutes during busy times.
Her Majesty surprised many onlookers by her unexpected attendance and looked in sprightly form despite her 96 years and recent absence from official events. It comes just days before her Platinum Jubilee celebrations.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Boasting the oldest underground network in the world, London has long been viewed as a pioneer in world leading transport systems and the Elizabeth Line is no exception.
“Londoners will have access to faster and cheaper travel on board these state-of-the art trains and it’s an honour to have played a role in this through the Government’s £9bn investment”.