The Anonymous Widower

Elizabeth Line: More Than 100 Million Journeys On Elizabeth Line, Says YouGov

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the BBC.

These three paragraphs introduce the article.

More than 100 million journeys have been made on London Underground’s new Elizabeth Line since it opened last May, according to a survey.

The YouGov poll suggested 45% of the capital’s residents had also used the line from Reading, Berkshire, to Abbey Wood and Shenfield in Essex.

Transport for London (TfL) said on 1 February it had completed about 600,000 daily journeys.

That is all well and good, but to me, this is the most significant paragraph.

TfL said the railway was “on track to break even” based on operating costs by the end of the 2023/24 financial year.

So it looks like that the planners got the modelling of the operation of the railway correct.

From my experience of project management, I believe that the Elizabeth Line project could have been considered as five main projects.

  1. The boring of the Central Tunnel
  2. The updating of the existing branches to Abbey Wood, Heathrow, Reading and Shenfield
  3. The building of the Class 345 trains
  4. The signalling
  5. The fitting out of the stations in the Central Tunnel

Delivery though was a bit patchy!

These are my thoughts on each sub-project.

The Boring Of The Central Tunnel

I was told, that early on, it was realised by the contractors that they didn’t have enough workers, who were certified to work underground.

So  the Tunneling and Underground Construction Academy in Ilford, was built to train more workers.

This helped the Central Tunnel to be completed on time.

Since then, two more tunnels; the Thames Tideway and the London Power Tunnel have been successfully completed on time and on budget, thus vindicating the building of TUCA.

The Updating Of The Existing Branches To Abbey Wood, Heathrow, Reading and Shenfield

There were a few hiccups, but generally the branches were updated and were operating into Paddington and Shenfield before the line opened.

The Building Of The Class 345 Trains

This wasn’t perfect and Bombardier’s financial state didn’t help, but the trains had good tests running out of Liverpool Street and Paddington.

The Signalling

A lot of commentators have said the signalling was too complicated. But eventually, it all seems to be working.

Was enough testing done away from the Elizabeth Line?

My feeling is that a new UK test track should have been built in the early 2010s, so that some testing could have been done professionally away from London.

The Fitting Out Of The Stations In The Central Tunnel

This was certainly a cause of late handover of stations like Bond Street, Farringdon, Whitechapel and others.

I heard tales, where other projects in London, were offering more money, so consequently workers were moving with the money, thus delaying the completion of stations.

I certainly heard a tale, where all the electricians on one station project moved en masse to complete the new Tottenham Hotspur stadium.

Some of the projects were office projects, paid for by sovereign wealth funds with bottomless projects, so they could make sure their project finished on time.

There were also the problems caused by Brexit, the pandemic and major projects running late in Germany and Europe.

It is my view that Elizabeth Line should have been given more priority, by delaying commercial projects, so that the pool of available labour wasn’t exhausted.

Some of the forest of projects around Elizabeth Line stations, should have been given planning permission, that meant they couldn’t start until Elizabeth Line was finished.

In the 1960s, there was certainly a similar labour problem in Aberdeen. I was told, that the oil majors, who nearly all used the project management system; Artemis, that I had written, talked to each other to make sure the situation didn’t get any worse.

I wonder, if someone was watching the labour shortage problems in City Hall?


I believe that if Elizabeth Line had been given the priority it should have been, that it would have been opened earlier and just as it is now, it would be showing a sensible cash flow.

Now it is a question of catching up financially.





February 21, 2023 - Posted by | Finance, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , ,


  1. This can only work financially for TfL if Crossrail is generating new traffic otherwise all it is passengers moving off other lines presumably central line and SE Trains so technically its not really covering the additional costs of running the expanded network unless they are reducing operating costs elsewhere.

    Comment by Nicholas Lewis | February 21, 2023 | Reply

    • As someone, who lives on close to the two Dalston stations, I always puzzle, where the passengers come from. Dalston Kingsland opened on the Overground in 2011 with three tph of three cars. It is now running six tph of five cars. It is still full most of the day.

      A lot of passengers change at Highbury & Islington to the Victoria Line.

      I’ve been on the Central Line several times since Lizzie opened and in the centre it still seems very busy.

      Lizzie seems to be taking passengers from Heathrow Express, judging by the cases on Heathrow services on Lizzie.

      The passenger figures when they are released will be interesting.

      Comment by AnonW | February 21, 2023 | Reply

      • For sure improved services on the likes of NLL have generated additional journeys but given the poor state of affairs that line prior to LO taking in over it wasn’t difficult. If it was down to me i would have given all suburban main line services to TfL/LO. Anyhow I wonder if Tfl will break down how many of the 100m Xrail journeys are actually new passengers.

        Comment by Nicholas Lewis | February 21, 2023

  2. They can find out the percentage of new passengers because nearly everybody uses contactless cards. I know from someone I met at a party, that they can use it for all sorts of purposes, because of touching in and out.

    Comment by AnonW | February 21, 2023 | Reply

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