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Crossrail: On board the first Elizabeth line train from Paddington to Abbey Wood

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It’s been delayed by four years, cost £4billion more than planned and faced numerous setbacks that had left many Londoners wondering whether it would ever run at all.

But the cheers that erupted as the gates opened at Paddington today for the hundreds of passengers eager to travel on the first Elizabeth line service suggested few were worried about what had led to this point.

In fact, they had little time to ponder the many construction difficulties and complications installing signalling systems that have hindered the Crossrail project and seen the budget balloon to £18.9billion.

The journey time to Abbey Wood took just 29 minutes, with many of those on board the 6.33am service being rail enthusiasts who had been gathering outside Paddington from the early hours of this morning.

These included people who had been queuing since midnight, one man who had flown in from Canada and hundreds of Britons who wanted to be a part of railway history at the station dating back to the 1850s. 

The delayed line has boosted capacity and significantly cut journey times for east-west travel across London, with another first train also running in the opposite direction from Abbey Wood to Paddington at 6.30am.

But the line – which stretches from Reading in Berkshire and London Heathrow Airport to Abbey Wood and Shenfield in Essex – is initially running in three separate sections, which are set to be integrated in the autumn.

By next May, Transport for London hopes to have the service running in full. For now, it will initially be closed on Sundays – apart from during the Platinum Jubilee weekend – to allow for further testing and software updates.

Crossrail was due to be completed in December 2018 and was set a budget of £14.8 billion in 2010. But the final total cost has been estimated at £18.9billion, including £5.1billion from the Government.

The line is named in honour of the Queen, who visited Paddington last Tuesday to celebrate the completion of the project. Here is MailOnline’s diary from on board the 6.33am service from Paddington to Abbey Wood:

Passengers queue for the first Elizabeth line train at London Paddington station this morning at around 6am

Passengers queue for the first Elizabeth line train at London Paddington station this morning at around 6am

Hundreds of passengers were waiting to board the first Elizabeth line train outside Paddington station today

Hundreds of passengers were waiting to board the first Elizabeth line train outside Paddington station today

Transport for London commissioner Andy Byford gave a young boy an Elizabeth line mug while at Paddington this morning

Transport for London commissioner Andy Byford gave a young boy an Elizabeth line mug while at Paddington this morning

Paul Jubb

Reece Martin

Receptionist Paul Jubb (left), 64, stayed at the Hilton hotel just metres away from the new Elizabeth line platform at Paddington last night after coming down from Birmingham to visit. Reece Martin (right), 25, a transport YouTuber from Toronto in Canada arrived yesterday in London to be able to see the line open

Vernon Kerswell, 33, a drone designer from Wimbledon, was the first person to arrive for the Paddington opening at midnight

Vernon Kerswell, 33, a drone designer from Wimbledon, was the first person to arrive for the Paddington opening at midnight

Transport for London's Andy Byford greets Vernon Kerswell, the first person to arrive for the Paddington opening today

Transport for London’s Andy Byford greets Vernon Kerswell, the first person to arrive for the Paddington opening today

Station staff stand in front of the Elizabeth line entrance at London Paddington this morning before it opened at 6.20am

Station staff stand in front of the Elizabeth line entrance at London Paddington this morning before it opened at 6.20am

Crowds wait in line to board the first Elizabeth line train to carry passengers at Paddington station this morning

Crowds wait in line to board the first Elizabeth line train to carry passengers at Paddington station this morning

Three Chelsea Pensioners wait to board the first Elizabeth line train to carry passengers at Paddington station today

Three Chelsea Pensioners wait to board the first Elizabeth line train to carry passengers at Paddington station today

Crowds wait in line to board the first Elizabeth line train to carry passengers at Paddington station in London this morning

Crowds wait in line to board the first Elizabeth line train to carry passengers at Paddington station in London this morning

London Mayor Sadiq Khan speaks to a young boy ahead of the opening of the Elizabeth line at Paddington today

London Mayor Sadiq Khan speaks to a young boy ahead of the opening of the Elizabeth line at Paddington today

Crowds wait in line to board the first Elizabeth line train to carry passengers at Paddington station in London this morning

Crowds wait in line to board the first Elizabeth line train to carry passengers at Paddington station in London this morning

Members of the media prepare to film the opening of Paddington station for Elizabeth line passengers at 6.20am this morning

Members of the media prepare to film the opening of Paddington station for Elizabeth line passengers at 6.20am this morning

Crowds wait in line to board the first Elizabeth line train to carry passengers at Paddington station in London today

Crowds wait in line to board the first Elizabeth line train to carry passengers at Paddington station in London today

Transport for London recently released this new map showing how the initial Crossrail services that will operate from today

Transport for London recently released this new map showing how the initial Crossrail services that will operate from today 

PADDINGTON, 6.33am 

MailOnline arrived at Paddington for around 5.30am today, with around 200 people already gathered behind a barrier in the rain as excitement mounted ahead of the first Elizabeth line train to Abbey Wood at 6.33am.

Transport for London commissioner Andy Byford greeted the crowds but also urged them to avoid running when the gates opened. He also gave a young boy an Elizabeth line mug and posed for pictures with those waiting.

People had been queuing from as early as midnight, with many paying homage to the colour of the line with purple-dyed hear, purple hoodies and face masks in the style of the Elizabeth line seat moquette.

There was a hubbub in the air with lots of excited chatter as rail enthusiasts – including one who had flown in from Canada yesterday – spoke to the media and posed for pictures, ahead of the opening of the gates at 6.20am.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan arrived to greet the crowds shortly after 6am, and spoke to those at the front of the queue. He also fist bumped a child who was among those ready to be first on board.

Mayor Sadiq Khan puts his thumbs up as the gates are opened at Paddington station in London at 6.20am this morning

Mayor Sadiq Khan puts his thumbs up as the gates are opened at Paddington station in London at 6.20am this morning

Passengers travel down the escalator at Paddington station at 6.30am this morning for the opening of the Elizabeth Line

Passengers travel down the escalator at Paddington station at 6.30am this morning for the opening of the Elizabeth Line 

London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Transport for London commissioner Andy Byford are among the first people in at Paddington

London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Transport for London commissioner Andy Byford are among the first people in at Paddington

London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Transport for London commissioner Andy Byford gave a thumbs up at Paddington today

London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Transport for London commissioner Andy Byford gave a thumbs up at Paddington today

Passengers travel down the escalator at Paddington station at 6.30am this morning for the opening of the Elizabeth Line

Passengers travel down the escalator at Paddington station at 6.30am this morning for the opening of the Elizabeth Line

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan uses his Oyster card as he goes through the barriers toward the platform at Paddington

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan uses his Oyster card as he goes through the barriers toward the platform at Paddington

Transport for London commissioner Andy Byford gives a thumbs up next to a sign at Paddington this morning

Transport for London commissioner Andy Byford gives a thumbs up next to a sign at Paddington this morning

Mr Khan then spoke to three Chelsea Pensioners who joked that he looked much shorter than they had thought in real life. Six police officers monitored the scene along with a throng of station staff. 

From Cross London Rail Links to Crossrail: Timeline of Elizabeth line

London’s Crossrail project has suffered numerous setbacks over the past 20 years, including as follows:

  • January 2002: Cross London Rail Links Ltd, a joint venture between the Strategic Rail Authority and Transport for London (TfL), is set up to develop plans for Crossrail.
  • July 2004: The Government commits to introducing legislation to enable Crossrail to proceed.
  • October 2007: Prime Minister Gordon Brown gives the green light for the project. It is expected to cost £15.9 billion and open in December 2017. 
  • May 2009: London Mayor Boris Johnson and Transport Secretary Lord Adonis break ground on the project at Canary Wharf.
  • October 2010: Crossrail’s budget is cut to £14.8 billion in the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government’s comprehensive spending review. Its opening date is pushed back 12 months to December 2018.
  • January 2014: The National Audit Office says the scheme is ‘just behind schedule’, adding that Crossrail Ltd ‘remains confident’ it will open on time.
  • May 2015: Tunnel boring is completed as a tunnelling machine named Victoria arrives at Farringdon. Some 13 miles of new tunnels have been dug under London.
  • February 2016: The Queen visits Bond Street station and announces the railway will be named the Elizabeth line in her honour.
  • July 2018: Rail minister Jo Johnson announces that Crossrail’s budget has risen to £15.4 billion as ‘cost pressures have increased across the project’.
  • August 2018: Crossrail Ltd announces it will miss its December 2018 opening date but the central section ‘will open in autumn 2019’. The project is suffering from construction delays and difficulties installing complex signalling systems.
  • December 2018: TfL says Crossrail may be delayed further and could require a £2 billion funding boost, taking the cost up to £17.6 billion. The Government, TfL and London Mayor Sadiq Khan agree a financial package to cover this.
  • December 2018: Sir Terry Morgan resigns as chairman of Crossrail Ltd and HS2, days after predicting he would be sacked. He is replaced at Crossrail by London Underground managing director Mark Wild.
  • April 2019: A ‘delivery window’ between October 2020 and March 2021 is announced for the central section of Crossrail.
  • November 2019: Crossrail Ltd announces that the railway will open ‘as soon as practically possible in 2021’. The cost has increased by up to £650 million to £18.25 billion.
  • January 2020: The ‘latest assessment’ is that services will commence in summer 2021.
  • July 2020: Crossrail Ltd says the railway will not open in summer 2021 because of delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic. It does not give an updated schedule.
  • August 2020: It is announced that the line will open in the first half of 2022.
  • July 2021: The National Audit Office says the estimated total cost of Crossrail is £18.9 billion.
  • May 17, 2022: The Queen and Prime Minister Boris Johnson visit Paddington station to celebrate the completion of Crossrail.
  • TODAY: Elizabeth line services are launched in three separate sections.
  • Autumn 2022: The three sections are due to be integrated.
  • May 2023: The full timetable of up to 24 trains per hour is scheduled to be introduced.

Mr Byford – who admitted that he could not sleep last night ahead of the opening – said a successful start would be a ‘normal day of service’ and that he hoped passengers would be ‘amazed’ by the journey.

Vernon Kerswell, 33, a drone designer from Wimbledon, South West London, was the first person to arrive for the opening at midnight. He told MailOnline: ‘I was the first person here. It is a big celebration.

‘I knew there would be a crowd but I did think they would get here a bit later than me. I got a feeling there would be a lot of people here so I wanted to get here early. I had a chair and a water ski suit to get warm and kept entertained with Twitter.

‘I didn’t get much sleep at all but did nod off a bit. I think it is a great transit system for the modern day. It is frustrating that it took so long but it is not an easy project, it runs on complex terrain.’

Reece Martin, 25, a transport YouTuber from Toronto in Canada arrived yesterday in London to be able to see the line open. He said: ”The Elizabeth line is a very powerful and impressive project. It could be transformational.

‘It is disappointing that it was late but that is part of the course for a complex project. It will really help commenters, you can cross the city at speeds you just weren’t able to before. I have been to London five or six times before and I am a big fan of the city.’

Receptionist Paul Jubb, 64, stayed at the Hilton hotel just metres away from the new Elizabeth line platform last night after coming down from Birmingham to visit. He said: ‘I set my alarm for 5.15am but I hardly slept all night. I was so excited I even left my phone at the hotel and had to go back for it. 

‘I may not have slept well but I am still half awake to be on the 6.33am to Abbey Road which will be quite something. To be here for the first time riding a line which was opened by the Queen is really exciting. 

‘This is certainly more than a Tube journey. The line really decreases journey times and will really help commuters and the tourism industry by being linked to Heathrow.’

There were cheers as passengers were allowed through the ticket barriers to the new 682ft (208m) underground platforms at what is the latest addition to Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s world-famous station built 168 years ago.

They touched in with Oyster and contactless cards through two surface-level entrances before walking down into the gigantic new station directly below Eastbourne Terrace and Departures Road, which spans three levels.

More than 500 people appeared to be gathered when the gates were opened at 6.20am, with a member of staff urging people ‘please don’t run’. Some of those at the front of the queue had been waiting for up to six hours.

They rushed through into the station so they could get onto the first train at 6.33am. Station staff initially only partially opened the gates to manage the crowd as they walked through before going down the escalators.

Once on the platform, people were urged to spread out by Transport for London employees. One member of staff acknowledged: ‘I know we all want to be at the front.’ 

And as the 6.33am service to Abbey Wood pulled in, the announcer said: ‘The train is your first Elizabeth line service from Paddington to Abbey Wood.’

The station, which has undergone its biggest transformation since opening in 1854, features a 295ft (90m) clear opening covered by a steel and glass canopy which let in plenty of natural light in the bright spring morning.

Passengers also walked past a 393ft (120m) long canopy of art by US artist Spencer Finch which is said to create a picture of the sky appearing to change according to the light, the direction of the sun and the time of day.

Some had arrived by train on one of the early services from West London which stretch out to Reading and Heathrow Airport on what was previously known as ‘TfL Rail’ but has now been rebranded the ‘Elizabeth line’.

Others had come in on one of the first Underground services of the day, with the new Crossrail station providing direct access to the Bakerloo line as well as changes to the Circle, Direct or Hammersmith & City lines. 

By the time the full Crossrail timetable is implemented and the network is full joined up in May 2023, there are expected to be 34 trains per hour going through Paddington – including 24 heading east and ten heading west.

Passengers descend the escalators to the Elizabeth Line platforms at Paddington station in London this morning

Passengers descend the escalators to the Elizabeth Line platforms at Paddington station in London this morning

Rail enthusiasts pass through Paddington's ticket barriers to travel on the first eastbound train on the Elizabeth Line today

Rail enthusiasts pass through Paddington’s ticket barriers to travel on the first eastbound train on the Elizabeth Line today

A man takes a selfie with Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and Andy Byford from Transport for London at Paddington today

A man takes a selfie with Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and Andy Byford from Transport for London at Paddington today

Passengers wait to board the first Elizabeth line train from Paddington station in London this morning

Passengers wait to board the first Elizabeth line train from Paddington station in London this morning

The train doors open at Paddington station this morning as Sadiq Khan and Andy Byford wait to board the train

The train doors open at Paddington station this morning as Sadiq Khan and Andy Byford wait to board the train

Passengers wait to board the Elizabeth Line at Paddington Station in London today as the new line opens to passengers

Passengers wait to board the Elizabeth Line at Paddington Station in London today as the new line opens to passengers

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan (centre) poses for a selfie on board the first Elizabeth line train at Paddington station today

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan (centre) poses for a selfie on board the first Elizabeth line train at Paddington station today

A man holds an Elizabeth line branded cupcake at Paddington station today as services get underway

A man holds an Elizabeth line branded cupcake at Paddington station today as services get underway

One of Britain's best-known rail enthusiasts, Geoff Marshall, walks through the Elizabeth line carriage this morning

One of Britain’s best-known rail enthusiasts, Geoff Marshall, walks through the Elizabeth line carriage this morning

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan (centre) speaks to a pssenger on board the first Elizabeth line train at Paddington station today

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan (centre) speaks to a pssenger on board the first Elizabeth line train at Paddington station today

BOND STREET, non-stop 

Passengers on Crossrail trains are only getting a short glimpse of Bond Street station, which is the only one out of ten on the new branch still to open – something to frustrate those hoping for quicker journeys to the West End.

The Elizabeth line timetable for Paddington to Abbey Wood

The Elizabeth line timetable for Paddington to Abbey Wood

And those travelling through it today could not see the new ticket halls at street level with entrances bordered by colonnades – red sandstone and bronze for Davies Street, and pale Portland stone for Hanover Square.

Passengers laughed as the train went through Bond Street, making light of the fact that they were unable to get off at the first station stop on the first journey. The platform was visible from on board the train, but signs said: ‘opening soon’ and ‘station closed’.

Bond Street, which has platforms 837ft (255m) long and is 92ft (28m) below ground, has suffered from a series of construction setbacks which project bosses say mostly relate to the tunnelling work being a year late in 2014.

Mechanical and electrical equipment installation was then also delayed by about a year, along with problems with two large tunnel ventilation fans being installed – and the cost of the station rising by 595 per cent to £660million. 

Sadiq Khan and Andy Byford travel on the Elizabeth line train from Paddington to Tottenham Court Road this morning

Sadiq Khan and Andy Byford travel on the Elizabeth line train from Paddington to Tottenham Court Road this morning

Rail and underground enthusiasts travel on the first eastbound train as the Elizabeth Line opens at Paddington station today

Rail and underground enthusiasts travel on the first eastbound train as the Elizabeth Line opens at Paddington station today

A passenger gives a thumbs up following the opening of the Elizabeth line at Paddington station this morning

A passenger gives a thumbs up following the opening of the Elizabeth line at Paddington station this morning

Passengers on board an Elizabeth line train approaching Tottenham Court Road station in London this morning

Passengers on board an Elizabeth line train approaching Tottenham Court Road station in London this morning

TOTTENHAM COURT ROAD, 6.38am

The first stop on the first-ever Elizabeth line journey heading east from Paddington was Tottenham Court Road, with passengers arriving under the heart of the West End a mere five minutes after departing Paddington.

The speed of the train was remarkable – and, while there were few people around on the platform, many passengers peered out from the doors of the carriages to take a look at what is another huge new construction.

Young and old were gathered on the service, and a boy could be heard pretending to be a platform announcer while the train was in the station, telling the passengers: ‘The next train will be in five minutes.’ 

Transport bosses say the Elizabeth line station will have a capacity of 170,000 passengers every day, with passengers able to enter through ticket halls at Dean Street in Soho and below St Giles Circus on Oxford Street.

The station offers an interchange with the Northern and Central lines and will provide a significantly quicker route from the West End to Heathrow Airport than the current slog on the Piccadilly line from Leicester Square.

Tottenham Court Road station is pictured this morning during the first Elizabeth line service from Paddington to Abbey Wood

Tottenham Court Road station is pictured this morning during the first Elizabeth line service from Paddington to Abbey Wood 

A passenger holds a new Elizabeth Line Oyster card this morning as the new services get underway

A passenger holds a new Elizabeth Line Oyster card this morning as the new services get underway

Passengers on board an Elizabeth line train approaching Tottenham Court Road station in London this morning

Passengers on board an Elizabeth line train approaching Tottenham Court Road station in London this morning

A passenger reads a booklet about t he Elizabeth Line train on board a train in London this morning

A passenger reads a booklet about t he Elizabeth Line train on board a train in London this morning

FARRINGDON, 6.41am

Next it was onto the City of London, as the Elizabeth line train arrived in Farringdon only three minutes later – a station which is being transformed into one of the busiest in Britain with direct links across the South East.

Passengers using the Elizabeth line station are now able to connect with Thameslink and Underground services which link it with outer London, the home counties, the City, Canary Wharf and three of the capital’s five airports.

For anyone getting off at this station, they can also enjoy the remarkable new lifts which move on a slope rather than the standard vertical movement – and fly through two new ticket halls connected by mined platforms.

On our service, this was where Mr Khan and Mr Byford left the train – although there were few others getting on or off the train – but many were walking up and down the carriages and excitedly filming the action.

One of the few commuters getting on board looked bemused at the amount of people on the train, given that the station itself was so quiet. A driver announced: ‘Please mind the doors’ – and then it was onto Liverpool Street. 

Passengers on board an Elizabeth line train travelling through the centre of London this morning

Passengers on board an Elizabeth line train travelling through the centre of London this morning

Sadiq Khan and Andy Byford from Transport for London disembark the first Elizabeth line train at Farringdon station today

Sadiq Khan and Andy Byford from Transport for London disembark the first Elizabeth line train at Farringdon station today

Farringdon station is pictured this morning during the first Elizabeth line service from Paddington to Abbey Wood

Farringdon station is pictured this morning during the first Elizabeth line service from Paddington to Abbey Wood

Sadiq Khan and Andy Byford walk through Farringdon station after riding on the first Elizabeth line train this morning

Sadiq Khan and Andy Byford walk through Farringdon station after riding on the first Elizabeth line train this morning

LIVERPOOL STREET, 6.44am

Liverpool Street station is an enormous station so big that passengers can even change for Northern line services from Moorgate – or the Central, Metropolitan, Circle and Hammersmith & City lines from Liverpool Street itself.

The construction project has uncovered nearly 4,000 skeletons from the Bedlam burial site along with thousands of artefacts dating back to the Roman era – as well as having to weave through sewers and existing Tube lines.

The station is 112ft (34m) below ground and features a ticket hall at Broadgate with a 16ft (5m)-high glazed canopy, which at night sees artificial lighting from inside shining out of the entrance at night to illuminate the area.

As we arrived at Liverpool Street today, only 11 minutes after leaving Paddington, one passenger remarked that the speed of the service was ‘crazy’ – while another joked that it was the ‘happiest commute’ they had ever seen.

A man wearing an Elizabeth line T-shirt enjoys the first journey from Paddington to Abbey Wood this morning

A man wearing an Elizabeth line T-shirt enjoys the first journey from Paddington to Abbey Wood this morning

The Elizabeth line map is pictured this morning during the first service from Paddington to Abbey Wood

The Elizabeth line map is pictured this morning during the first service from Paddington to Abbey Wood

WHITECHAPEL, 6.46am

Just two minutes later the train arrived at Whitechapel – again, an impressive construction project to create a new ticket hall sitting on a bridge above the Victorian railway that provides the interchange route to other services.

The station has a a new concourse sweeping from Whitechapel Road over the east-west Underground lines and above the north-south London Overground lines before dipping under the road bridge at Durward Street.

Among those getting on board was a man with a dog called Peppa, who had a collar that was purple – the Elizabeth line colour. Many passengers moved further back the train for a seat because the front was very busy. 

Passengers on board this morning during the first Elizabeth line service from Paddington to Abbey Wood

Passengers on board this morning during the first Elizabeth line service from Paddington to Abbey Wood

Whitechapel station is pictured this morning during the first Elizabeth line service from Paddington to Abbey Wood

Whitechapel station is pictured this morning during the first Elizabeth line service from Paddington to Abbey Wood

A member of Transport for London staff on board during the first Elizabeth line service from Paddington to Abbey Wood

A member of Transport for London staff on board during the first Elizabeth line service from Paddington to Abbey Wood

CANARY WHARF, 6.50am

Just four minutes later we are at Canary Wharf, a remarkable new station which sits in a 820ft-long (250m) box surrounded by the water of West India Quay dock that retains a navigable channel for boats.

The station ticket hall has eight long-rise escalators from the promenade level entrances at either end, and also features a 1,017ft (310m)-long timber lattice roof as well as a daily passenger capacity of 68,000 people.

There was still huge excitement on the train, with many people wearing purple colours and one man even sporting an Elizabeth line waistcoat. Others were walking up and down with friends and relatives to enjoy the moment.

A man and boy make the most of travelling on the first journey from Paddington to Abbey Wood this morning

A man and boy make the most of travelling on the first journey from Paddington to Abbey Wood this morning

Canary Wharf station is pictured this morning during the first Elizabeth line service from Paddington to Abbey Wood

Canary Wharf station is pictured this morning during the first Elizabeth line service from Paddington to Abbey Wood

A police officer monitors crowds on board the first Elizabeth line service from Paddington to Abbey Wood today

A police officer monitors crowds on board the first Elizabeth line service from Paddington to Abbey Wood today

CUSTOM HOUSE, 6.54am

We were now travelling a route which can be taken by Docklands Light Railway, although certainly not in as little as four minutes to this new station – which is a freestanding building with an elevated concourse above it.

Workers at the nearby ExCel centre were watching the train go by and it was at this point that the train came overground for the first time since Paddington, with the landscape looking very industrial with warehouses. 

Custom House station is pictured this morning during the first Elizabeth line service from Paddington to Abbey Wood

Custom House station is pictured this morning during the first Elizabeth line service from Paddington to Abbey Wood

Two stops remain following Custom House station as the Elizabeth line train runs into South East London today

Two stops remain following Custom House station as the Elizabeth line train runs into South East London today

Passengers on board an Elizabeth line train travelling through the centre of London this morning

Passengers on board an Elizabeth line train travelling through the centre of London this morning

WOOLWICH, 6.58am

The new station at Woolwich, where we arrived another four minutes later, is on the historic site of the Royal Arsenal – a location which once featured the manufacture of guns, munitions testing and a military academy.

The 905ft-long (276m) box station is now part of a major redevelopment which includes 3,750 new homes, and sits below a major development site. In future up to 56,000 passengers per day are expected to pass through.

As we pulled in today, the train went underground again having travelled near London City Airport, and the surrounding area appeared far more residential with football pitches and allotments also visible. 

Woolwich station in South East London is pictured this morning following the opening of the Elizabeth line

Woolwich station in South East London is pictured this morning following the opening of the Elizabeth line

Passengers at Woolwich station in South East London as the first train from Paddington arrives this morning

Passengers at Woolwich station in South East London as the first train from Paddington arrives this morning

The information board on the Elizabeth line train shows that the next station will be Abbey Wood, the final stop

The information board on the Elizabeth line train shows that the next station will be Abbey Wood, the final stop

Passengers wait for the doors to open at Abbey Wood station this morning following the first journey from Paddington

Passengers wait for the doors to open at Abbey Wood station this morning following the first journey from Paddington

A train on the platform at Abbey Wood station this morning, which is the Elizabeth line terminus in South East London

A train on the platform at Abbey Wood station this morning, which is the Elizabeth line terminus in South East London

Passengers take pictures on the platform at Abbey Wood station this morning following the journey from Paddington

Passengers take pictures on the platform at Abbey Wood station this morning following the journey from Paddington

An excited rail enthusiast wearing Elizabeth line colours on the platform at Abbey Wood station in London this morning

An excited rail enthusiast wearing Elizabeth line colours on the platform at Abbey Wood station in London this morning

ABBEY WOOD, 7.02am 

Less than half an hour after leaving Paddington we are at Abbey Wood, the terminus of the Elizabeth line in South East London, following an extraordinary journey that will surely revolutionise transport in the capital forever. 

The final part of the journey was overground, with a train depot visible nearby, and the train also finishes above ground. The driver announced to passengers: ‘Thank you for joining me on this Elizabeth line service.’ 

As MailOnline touched out with an Oyster card – the journey from Zone 1 to Zone 4 costing £3.10 off-peak – passengers were welcomed by staff with one overheard telling a police officer: ‘We’re part of history.’

The train journey had been astonishingly smooth and quick, with comparisons already being made to flying – with the stations so big that they resemble airports, and the trains so impressive that they are like planes.

STAGE 1: Now the line has opened today, it is running in three different sections - from Reading or Heathrow to Paddington; Paddington to Abbey Wood via Liverpool Street; and Liverpool Street to Shenfield. The green section is the new project

STAGE 1: Now the line has opened today, it is running in three different sections – from Reading or Heathrow to Paddington; Paddington to Abbey Wood via Liverpool Street; and Liverpool Street to Shenfield. The green section is the new project

STAGE 2: The second stage, for which Crossrail says the'earliest expected date' is'autumn 2022', will ensure the services from Reading or Heathrow towards Paddington can run all the way through to Abbey Wood via Liverpool Street. At this stage, there will also be trains running direct from Paddington to Shenfield, also via Liverpool Street

STAGE 2: The second stage, for which Crossrail says the ‘earliest expected date’ is ‘autumn 2022’, will ensure the services from Reading or Heathrow towards Paddington can run all the way through to Abbey Wood via Liverpool Street. At this stage, there will also be trains running direct from Paddington to Shenfield, also via Liverpool Street

STAGE 3: The final milestone will be'no later than May 2023', when the full timetable will allow passengers to travel without changing across the entire line from Reading to Shenfield or Abbey Wood

STAGE 3: The final milestone will be ‘no later than May 2023’, when the full timetable will allow passengers to travel without changing across the entire line from Reading to Shenfield or Abbey Wood

The Crossrail route is shown on a geographical map which displays how passengers will be able to travel through London

The Crossrail route is shown on a geographical map which displays how passengers will be able to travel through London

The Crossrail route map is displayed, with the complete line set to be operational in its full form by May 2023 at the latest

The Crossrail route map is displayed, with the complete line set to be operational in its full form by May 2023 at the latest

The new Transport for London map released last week which incorporates the Elizabeth line in its three different sections

The new Transport for London map released last week which incorporates the Elizabeth line in its three different sections

They are also very clean on board – hardly surprising considering they are new – and passengers were excitedly chatting to each other all the way about how their journey is going to become better thanks to the line. 

While the project has not yet been fully completed – in that fully-integrated services are still one year away – the Elizabeth line will surely be welcomed by most Londoners for making journeys much easier and quicker.

And despite questions remaining over how the cost went up to £4billion and who should be paying for it, for now passengers will be keen to experience travelling on a project that many thought would never be finished.

Watch this video to see what the journey was like going back the other way from Abbey Wood to Paddington: 

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