May 2017 marked the beginning of the gradual introduction of the new trains between Shenfield and Liverpool Street, with the Elizabeth Line due to be fully open and using the new Class 345 trains in 2019.
The 60 mile Elizabeth Line, the Crossrail project named in honour of the monarch, will connect Reading and Heathrow in the west of London to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east through tunnels bored under central London. With 40 fully accessible stations – 10 newly built and 30 refurbished existing stations – most journey times will be cut by half and some journey times will be five times quicker.
The new trains, initially consisting of seven carriages to fit Liverpool Street platforms until new ones are completed, will have fully connected walk-through carriages. With air conditioning, CCTV, Wi-Fi, live information boards and 4G access, each carriage will have three double doors on each side, to allow passengers getting on and off to do so more quickly and easily. Trains also boast four dedicated wheelchair spaces, with additional multi-functional space to store buggies, bicycles and luggage.
With their lightweight design and intelligent lighting and temperature control the trains will actually regenerate electricity back into the grid when braking, using 30 per cent less energy. Manufactured in Derby by Bombardier Transportation, the train construction is supporting 760 jobs and 80 apprenticeships.
By Autumn 2017, half the fleet will consist of the new trains, and by the completion of the project in December 2019, all 66 trains in the fleet will be Class 345, consisting of nine carriages and each train capable of carrying 1500 passengers. The line is expected to carry 500,000 passengers per day and up to 200 million per year, increasing central London capacity by 10 per cent. As such, an extra 1.5 million people will be within 45 minutes of central London.