State-of-the-art London Crossrail trains will cut travel times in half for millions and create jobs

Find out how Transport for London is dealing with the projected growth of the British capital to 10 million people by 2030 with a new rail connection right across the city:

  • Connecting Heathrow Airport in west to the centre of the city and on into the East
  • Increasing rail transport capacity by 10%
  • Introducing lighter, more eco-friendly trains that offer amenities including free WIFI, air conditioning and live travel information

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Future Europe features a podcast episode from each of the EU’s 28 Member States. Each episode tells the story of a project that illuminates the way Europeans will live in the future. All the stories are told through the voices of people involved in the projects.

London Crossrail trains are at “next level”

Where do you go to learn to drive a new train? You can’t really cruise around the London Underground with a teacher next to you. For London Crossrail trains, it turns out there are simulators. Future Europe went to check them out.

Dermot Cafferky belongs to the 1% of applicants who made it through the rigorous selection process for drivers for Crossrail, London’s new underground rail link.

“I like driving these trains because the technology is at the next level,” he says as he sits in the cab of a London Crossrail train simulator at Old Oak Common, the brand new purpose-built depot.

The new cutting-edge London Crossrail trains will run on what will be called the Elizabeth Line under central London, connecting Heathrow in the west with Essex to the east of the city.

Cafferky points out the cameras throughout the train, which will allow him to see when to close the doors. It makes the ride safer for him and for the passengers, as well as making the train run more efficiently. But the cameras are just one improvements.

1,500 people on each train

The trains are designed to be safer, lighter, eco-friendlier and more comfortable than the current London Underground rolling stock. They will also offer greater passenger capacity, with each train able to accommodate 1 500 passengers.

“Crossrail is revolutionary,” says Edward Hamlyn, the project manager for construction of the new depot in West London. “With this brand new line we are increasing the capacity of London Underground and the overground by 10 percent. It will transform London.”

The European Investment Bank’s involvement with Crossrail, Europe’s largest construction project, goes back several years. It originally provided a £1 billion loan towards the first stage of the project in 2009. This supported the building of new tunnels and new infrastructure. More recently the EIB lent a further £500 million to back financing for the purchase of new trains (70 in total) and maintenance facilities.

London Crossrail trains catalyst for public transport usage

Emanuela Cernoia Russo, the director of corporate finance at Transport for London, the body in charge of Crossrail, estimates that Crossrail will boost the UK economy by approximately £42 billion, creating up to 630 000 new jobs. The project will also help regenerate areas along the route.

“There will be an estimated 90 000 new homes along the route by 2021,” she says. A commuter herself, she is looking forward to the shorter times she can expect on her daily journey.

She says the project will help absorb the impact of a growing population, expected to increase from 8.6 million in London today to 10 million by 2030.

And you don’t have to be a train driver in a simulation cab to get an early taste of the new travel experience. The new trains are not yet branded as belonging to the Elizabeth line, but some of them are already operating, although not yet in the new tunnels under central London. That is expected to happen late next year.