The opening of the Elizabeth line last month was a sight to behold. According to Transport for London, tens of thousands used the new TfL line on its first day (May 24), with many travelling from across the world for its opening. But did you know that the District line was technically the ‘original Crossrail’, as it previously offered very similar journeys?
The District line first opened during the Christmas of 1868 and was extended between both east and west, and at one point going as far as Windsor. Around 15 years later, the line was extended from Ealing Broadway to Windsor, and at one point even had services running as far as Southend.
The new Elizabeth line will also go to Windsor, as it is due to stop at Slough, when the full route opens next year. It is expected that four Elizabeth line trains an hour in each will serve Slough station and will allowed passengers to travel right through Central London, including Ealing Broadway, without changing trains.
This will be welcomed by those who live in Windsor, as this District line route did not last very long, ending after just two years in 1885. The Tube line has undergone many significant changes since, as Uxbridge and Hounslow were also part of the District line until they moved to the Piccadilly line in the 20th century.
The new Elizabeth line runs from Reading and Heathrow in the west, through 42km of new tunnels under Central London to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east. It stretches 118km, or 73 miles. Passengers coming from the east will be forced to change at Paddington in order to reach Abbey Wood, or change at Paddington and Liverpool Street to reach Shenfield.
In the coming autumn, the next phase of opening the Elizabeth line will integrate services from the east and west into the new central tunnels and stations. The three railways will merge, enabling seamless services from Reading and Heathrow through to Abbey Wood and from Shenfield through to Paddington.
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