A few years later, London’s “Game Changer” subway line opens

Andy Byford points to the cathedral-like ceiling, the crystal clear sound, and the “purity of aesthetics” that surrounds him.

The head of public transport in London is making a fuss about the subway station. Some of the new lines he says will be “the envy of the world” when it opens this month.

“It really gives people a sense of grandeur, but it also has a sense of calm,” when he showed it to journalists around Liverpool Street Station on London’s shining new East-West Elizabeth Line, which is scheduled to open on May 24. , Said Byford.

The £ 19 billion ($ 23 billion) mixed railroad, named after Queen Elizabeth II, is three and a half years behind and is £ 4 billion ($ 5 billion) above budget. But Byford says it will be the “game changer” of Britain’s pandemic-damaged capital.

“I think the opening will significantly improve London’s morale after COVID,” said Byford, Transport for London Commissioner. “What is the bigger symbol of London’s emergence from COVID than this magnificent railroad?”

Still, there is a question mark as to whether London still needs the Elizabeth Line.

Since the first collapse of the ground in a project (also known as the Crossrail) in 2009, London has experienced a recession, a rocky British exit from the European Union, a coronavirus pandemic, and a city for several months. May have closed and changed work and travel patterns. Permanently.

Tony Travers, a government professor at the London School of Economics, said Elizabeth Line was “notable and beautiful.”

“But it was built for a different economy after a lot of effort and a very long period of time,” he said. “The whole economy case was very dependent on the continued growth of the economy in central London.”

Britain’s largest infrastructure project, this new line will dig a new 26-mile (42 km) tunnel under Europe’s largest city, with huge 68,000-year-old bones, Roman ruins, and victims of medieval pesto. I found the skeleton of.

Scheduled to open in late 2018, the launch was postponed in just a few months, after which workers completed 10 new stations and three separate signaling systems in the west, central and east of 60. It was postponed again because I had a hard time linking. -Mile (100 kilometers) railroad.

In 2020, the builder turned to Byford, a veteran public transport executive who ran the Toronto Transit Commission and then ran New York’s transport. ..

Byford has a reputation for running Elizabeth Line.

“It had a challenge,” he admitted. “This was a love effort for us. We shed blood on this.”

The central section, largely underground from Paddington Station in western London to Abbey Wood in the southeast, will be open to paying customers this month, a few days before Britain celebrates the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. autumn.

According to builders, the Elizabeth Line will provide a speedy new link between Heathrow Airport in western London, the Central City Financial District and the Canary Wharf Business Hub in the east.

For those who have been in the cramped basement of London over 150 years ago, the scale of the new line is a pleasing shock. Each spacious train can carry more than 1,000 passengers. It’s also air-conditioned, which is unusual for a sweaty tube in London. The tunnel appears to bend forever and the station soars — Paddington has 10 floors and is the same length as London’s tallest skyscraper, the Shard.

From the purple patterned fabrics of train seats to the playful station design touch like the ceiling of Liverpool Street Station, a striped city reminiscent of bankers’ pinstripes suits, crossrail builders have taken the details. I am proud of my commitment to. The lighting in the concourse is cool, the platform is warm, and it’s a “nudge” to subtly encourage people towards the train.

Elizabeth Line opens in cities and countries facing economic uncertainty. The city center is quieter than before the pandemic, as the war in Ukraine has contributed to record inflation and many officers work at least part-time from home. The expected number of passengers on this route has been reduced from the pre-pandemic forecast of 250 million passengers to approximately 200 million passengers annually.

The transit network, London’s circulatory system, requires more investment. However, Britain’s conservative government has focused on spreading economic opportunities from the wealthy south of England to the poor Midlands and the north, especially London, which is the home of the opposition Labor Party, so it decided to spend money on the capital. Is reluctant.

Crossrail 2, which will slice London from southwest to northeast, is pending, but Crossrail CEO Mark Wild hopes it will be completed someday.

He is confident that the new line will help get London back on track.

“If there’s ever been a pandemic-resistant railroad, that’s it,” Wild said. “It’s airy, fast, the station is like a cathedral, the air is fresh. It’s modern and clean. If there’s a railroad that can stimulate your return to the office, this would be it.”

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