The Elizabeth Line through central London, formerly known as Crossrail, opened today:
First approved in 2008, the heavy rail line will dramatically improve public transport coverage of the city, says Transport for London (TfL), slashing journey times, providing substantial extra capacity and making the city more altogether more accessible. By extending the transport system to areas that were previously much slower to access and creating new central hubs for transfers to the Tube, the line could also reshape the way people navigate the city.
Travel times from Southeast London’s Abbey Wood to the major western rail terminus of Paddington, for example, will be cut by almost half to 29 minutes. Journeys from southeastern Woolwich—currently one of London’s worst-served areas for train connections—to London’s main eastern rail terminus at Liverpool Street will be halved to 15 minutes, while connections between Farringdon, in London’s financial district, and the newer dockland business hub of Canary Wharf will be slashed from 24 minutes to just ten. While all Londoners stand to benefit from these connections, business travelers will be particularly well-served, with connections from Heathrow Airport to Canary Wharf soon to be possible in 44 minutes.
An additional 1.5 million people will be within a 45-minute commuting distance from the capital’s major commercial and business centers of the West End, the City and Canary Wharf, up from 5 million currently according to Crossrail.
The Elizabeth Line will also redraw the map of London’s central transport hubs.
To take an example: Farringdon Station—the central London terminus of the world’s first underground railway, which opened in January 1863—was, before the Elizabeth Line’s opening a busy but not necessarily pivotal station in London’s transport network. Thanks to the Elizabeth Line, it will now be a key interchange station, connecting the line not just to the Tube but with high frequency trains to London’s northern and southern suburban hinterland that are routed through the station. Farringdon will also now have direct links to St. Pancras International for Eurostar connections and to three major airports: Gatwick, Heathrow and Luton. Combined with the station’s existing Tube links, Farringdon will eventually be served by over 140 trains per hour at the busiest times.
I will deliver a full report in July.
Meanwhile, 89% of UK railway workers have voted for a national railway strike, so who knows how long the Elizabeth Line will run?
First, I believe this might be the greatest gaffe* of the 21st century:
Second, for everyone whinging on about paying $5 per gallon of gas, why not take this opportunity to finally switch to the metric system? Then you'd only be paying $1.29 per liter** of gas!
* And I do mean "gaffe" in the sense that it's an absolutely true statement made absolutely unintentionally.
** Of course, they're used to this way of pricing petrol in London, where they're today whinging on about 159p per liter ($8 per gallon).
The London Underground gets a new line on May 24th. Eventually, you can take the Elizabeth Line from Heathrow to Essex in one go; for now, you have to change twice. But it still adds about 10% more capacity to the Tube:
The Elizabeth line will initially operate as three separate railways, with services from Reading, Heathrow and Shenfield connecting with the central tunnels from autumn this year. When the final stage is complete, customers will be able to travel seamlessly from Abbey Wood to Heathrow and Reading, and from Shenfield to Heathrow.
- Shenfield and the central section of the route will need to change trains at Liverpool Street, walking to/from the new Elizabeth line Liverpool Street station
- Reading or Heathrow and the central section will need to change trains at Paddington, walking to/from the new Paddington Elizabeth line station
- Paddington and Abbey Wood only - no changes needed
The line has all-new trains, all-new signals, and all-new controls, making it "one of the most complex digital railways in the world," according to TfL.
The Heathrow to Paddington route looks like it could give the Heathrow Express some competition, as £6 is less than £25, even if the route takes twice as long.
Welcome to an extra stop on the Brews and Choos project.
Brewery: Mikkeler Bar, 34 Mason St., San Francisco
Train line: BART, Powell
Time from Chicago: about 4½ hours by air
Distance from station: 200 m
While in San Francisco last weekend, I happened across a brewpub that would fit the Brews & Choos ethos perfectly, were it in Chicago. The Mikkeller Bar in San Francisco serves a variety of craft beer, mostly their own Danish brews, but also some American varieties.
I tried three beers, the Weldwerks Mosaic Extra Extra Juicy Bits (DIPA, 8.6%), Mikkeller's Hop Opera NEDIPA (9%), and Mikkeller's Windy Hill (NEIPA, 7%). Of the three, I liked the Windy Hill enough to have a second.
It's an interesting place with a vibe that I assume came from a collision between Denmark and Northern California. It also has some deeply weird elements, like this, which rumor says came from the building's previous owner, presumably after he no longer needed it:
I'm glad I stopped in. Pity, though, that not a lot of breweries in the Bay Area would fit the Brews & Choos Project. But hey, it was a fun surprise.
Beer garden? No
Dogs OK? No
Serves food? Full menu
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes
I popped out to San Francisco this past weekend, then had a ton of things to work on today that precluded posting any of these photos.
So, from south to north order, starting with Moss Beach, including a WWII-era anti-aircraft bunker on the left:
Just a short way from there is what used to be a scary section of the Pacific Coast Highway, now a bike trail:
The Powell end of the Powell & Mason cable car, at Market St:
The Ferry Building:
Looking up California St. from Sansomme:
And the MUNI F line at its terminus in North Beach:
And finally, when I left for San Francisco on Saturday morning, it was 10°C and sunny. Here we are about 76 hours later and it's 30°C. We really don't have spring or fall here some years.
According to my Garmin, I got almost 18 hours of sleep the past two nights, but also according to my Garmin (and my groggy head), few of those hours made a difference. I take some of the blame for that, but on the other hand, someday I want to stay in a hotel room where I can control when the air conditioner turns on and off.
Anyway, while I slept fitfully, these stories passed through my inbox:
And finally, good news for the Brews & Choos Project: Lagunitas plans to re-open their taproom later this year.
Chicago actually had clear skies and lovely spring weather today. That said, I'm in San Francisco this weekend, where the weather is almost exactly the same (12°C and clear).
Posting will be sporadic until Tuesday.
Gray skies, day 45: they say the sun will come out tomorrow. I would not bet my bottom dollar on that.
In any event, I'll be in San Francisco for a couple of days, where they've had sun on and off for a while, with sun predicted tomorrow and Sunday. Then, if the predictions hold true, I'll come back here Monday in time to throw open all my windows.
We'll see. But I am really sick of the rain and clouds already.
Last month we had the second-gloomiest April on record, with only 34% of possible sunshine reaching Chicago all month. Normal is 51%.
I realize May is only 34 hours old, but we haven't gotten any sunshine this month, either, with rain forecast tonight, Tuesday night, and Thursday. Then I'm heading to San Francisco for the weekend, where they haven't had any clouds in a while. I could use the sunshine.