London’s long-delayed commuter rail link opens

Published May 25, 2022
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and Transport for London (TfL) Commissioner Andy Byford on board the first Elizabeth Line train at Paddington station on Tuesday.—Reuters
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and Transport for London (TfL) Commissioner Andy Byford on board the first Elizabeth Line train at Paddington station on Tuesday.—Reuters

LONDON: Long delayed and over budget, the Elizabeth line rail link finally opened in London on Tuesday, with hopes that the speeded up journey times will provide a much-needed economic boost.

Hundreds of people queued outside Paddington station in west London to be on the first train, which departed to cheers at 6:33am. By 10am, there had been some 130,000 journeys, operator Transport for London (TfL) said.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan was one of those on board, and said that the line was a “game-changer for our country and our city”.

Khan’s predecessor as mayor, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, said the project is forecast to boost the UK economy by 42 billion ($52 billion, 49 billion euros).

Only one of the line’s three branches has opened so far, from Paddington to Abbey Wood in southeast London. There, commuters wanted to reap the benefits of the new line from a sprawling hinterland ill-served with fast transport links.

“I’m excited just to see how quick it actually is,” said Niyana Saratatt, 45, who works in central London. “At the moment I need to take a train, a bus and a Tube. This will cut my journey in half. Everyone’s happy,” she added, predicting a rise in local house prices.

David, in his 60s, was on one of the first trains arriving at Abbey Wood having returned from his night shift as a security guard in Farringdon, central London.

“It’s a big change, it saves me 50 percent of my time. I was very eager to get it,” he said. “It’s going to increase activities, socialising, friends coming to visit you.”

Published in Dawn, May 25th, 2022

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