London: Public Transport - TfL Rail / Elizabeth Line

London: Public Transport - TfL Rail / Elizabeth Line

The trains that run on TfL Rail and the Elizabeth Line
MAY 2020 UPDATE: The Elizabeth Line is now delayed until at least Summer 2021.

TfL Rail is a relatively new addition to the London network of services. Up until 2015, it was a National Rail service, though it has now been taken over by Transport for London.

‘TfL Rail’ is the temporary name for a section of a huge new underground rail line that is being built – the Elizabeth Line – which will open in phases until December 2019. In total it will add 10% more rail capacity to the capital and dramatically speed up journeys.

At the moment, TfL Rail is essentially just a rebranded national rail service but, when fully operational, the Elizabeth Line will link east and west London, as well as commuting towns outside of London. 

Ticketing works in the same way as on the Underground (Oyster, Contactless and paper tickets) and stations will be integrated with the Underground, DLR and Overground networks. The Elizabeth Line will also be featured on the London Underground map.

The section that is operating at the time of writing, runs from Liverpool Street in central London, out towards Stratford in the east, and all the way to Shenfield well outside the city. At the moment, this is called TfL Rail.

Getting from Heathrow Airport to central London on Tfl Rail / Elizabeth Line
Travellers from Heathrow Airport will be particularly pleased to hear that the airport will be one of the stops on the new line, connecting it to  many places in central London and drastically reducing journey times. 

This is because Tfl Rail (future Elizabeth Line) will take over the ‘Heathrow Connect’ services to Paddington from May 2018.

MAY 2020 UPDATE: The Elizabeth Line is now delayed until at least Summer 2021.

From December 2018, you will be able to catch a Tfl Rail train from Heathrow to Paddington station and then change onto an Elizabeth Line train to access the rest of central London.

From December 2019, you will be able to catch a through-train from Heathrow Airport's terminals to central and east London locations including Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road, Liverpool Street and Canary Wharf.

Heathrow Terminal 2 and 3 to Paddington will only take 23 minutes on the Elizabeth Line, versus 27 minutes currently on the Heathrow Connect today, and 15 minutes on the Heathrow Express.

The Elizabeth Line will also stop at Heathrow Terminal 4 and Terminal 5. To give you another example of how journey times will improve. Bond Street will only be 26 minutes from Heathrow, as opposed to 51 minutes today. The Elizabeth Line will bring big benefits to London.

When the Elizabeth Line fully opens in December 2019 and replaces TfL Rail, the map will look like this:

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