A tale of two Lizzies: here are our thoughts on the new Elizabeth Line

Today marked the long-awaited opening of the Elizabeth Line. We went on a journey from east to west and back to test it out (just make sure you know your two Lizzies!).

As the train arrives at the platform, and Londoners step into the carriage, it’s hard to believe that, after thirteen years, the Lizzie Line is finally here. We took an East Enders trip to test out the new Elizabeth Line.

After stepping into Whitechapel tube station, the first noticeable feature is the bright nature of the space. With windows on either side of the corridor, and high ceilings, it is the least claustrophobic underground experience yet. The tubular tunnels give the station a cool, sleek look. It is almost as if we are travelling on a Parisian metro on our way to a designer shop in Galeries Lafayette. 

The tube arrived with a surprisingly quiet stop. After entering the carriage the freshness of the station remains. The air conditioning on board provides a constant cool flow of clean air, much desired in these Covid times. For a commuter going into Liverpool Street from Whitechapel, it is a pleasant upgrade.

At Liverpool Street, there are two routes east on the Elizabeth Line; one to Shenfield via Stratford, and one to Abbey Wood via Whitechapel. A word of warning, don’t get caught on the wrong line! To get to Stratford from Whitechapel involved a change at Liverpool street, walking up from underground to overground platforms, which is not quite as seamless as we initially thought. This line, which was originally TfL rail, is not new, and has been running for the last seven years. However, it is nearly unrecognisable; renamed as Elizabeth Line, its new name now is in good company with its distinct purple decor. 

A map of the new Elizabeth Line in East London
Liverpool Street is where the Elizabeth Line diverges – one line to Shenfield via Stratford, one to Abbey Wood. Map courtesy of TfL

It is then a simple seven-minute journey from Liverpool Street to Stratford, with a lovely view of the East End, allowing for a more pleasant commute back home.

Eavesdropping on the conversations of passengers on the train, one said: ‘It is so bright and cool in here!’. Another stated: ‘I feel like I have so much more leg room’. A lady with a buggy boarded the carriage, and with ease managed to slip the buggy into the spacious corner of the train, leaving significant space for other passengers.

Walking and Cycling Ambassador Laura Shelton at Liverpool Street said the new line hopes to create a greener city: ‘The new Elizabeth Line is much larger than previous trains, and also has lifts in the station meaning you can now bring non foldable bikes onto the train. It’s part of a new incentive to encourage commuters to ride bikes to stations’. The new scheme, called ‘Integrated Transport’, hopes to give space for commuters to bring their bikes to work, as opposed to driving and getting buses to the office. 

If that wasn’t enough, TfL have announced limited edition Elizabeth Line oysters cards, which are dispensed from machines at all stations, as well as stops in Zone One. They cost £5, as well as any credit needed to cover the journey costs. 

Elizabeth Line travellers have flooded Twitter to let everyone know their opinion. Sean tweeted: ‘Everything ran flawlessly and the design is truly stunning’. For others, the launch of the new line brought disappointment. Newham Cyclists campaign tweeted: ‘We remain frustrated at dangerous new road layouts outside some #ElizabethLine stations, and the lack of level boarding on the eastern leg.’ 

The new design of the Elizabeth Line has upgraded grey London commutes. However, with small improvements needed to ensure cycle safety, as well as the new branch to Heathrow and Reading opening later this year, further developments to the Elizabeth Line are to come. Just make sure you catch the correct Lizzie Line out of Liverpool Street going east, or you could end up watching a football game at the London Stadium instead of going home!

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