Passengers arriving at London's Heathrow Airport will soon be able to zip across the city in minutes now that the capital's new high-speed rail line has opened.

The much-delayed first phase of the new Elizabeth Line (also known as Crossrail) opened May 24, after a three-year delay brought about by testing and budget issues, and the pandemic.

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The opening of the line by Transport for London (TfL) comes just ahead of the Queen's jubilee celebrations.

The project promises to dramatically improve transport links in Southeast England, cut journey times, and increase accessibility with new stations and longer and more spacious trains.

Where does Crossrail go?

Crossrail connects east with west, running under the streets of central London, the Docklands, the financial districts, the West End, as well as commuter towns in Southeast England, and major transport hubs like Heathrow Airport.

It will make traveling across the capital much quicker and easier, particularly for passengers arriving at Heathrow, who will be able to get to Canary Wharf in central London in just 38 minutes when that phase of the line opens in autumn. That's an hour less than it takes on the current underground system. Or two hours less than a typical taxi journey to central London from Heathrow in rush hour.

The journey from Paddington to Canary Wharf will be reduced to 17 minutes, compared with more than 30 minutes that it currently takes by Tube. 

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London's Crossrail map.jpg
Crossrail map © Transport for London

What does the Crossrail timetable look like?

Initially, Crossrail will run 12 trains an hour between 6:30 am and 11 pm from Monday to Saturday, while engineering work on the lines continues on Sundays. The launch phase will run a service in each direction between Abbey Wood in southeast London, and Paddington in central London.

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In autumn, the Abbey Wood line will then run to Reading and Heathrow, via Canary Wharf. Additional services from Shenfield in Essex will connect to Paddington around that time too. 

The full schedule won't be up and running until May 2023, when up to 24 trains per hour will run in each direction across the whole network.

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Customers, including tourists, will be able to plan their journey using the TfL Go app and Journey Planner ahead of the railway opening. 

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This article was first published May 2022 and updated May 2022

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