Elizabeth Line in figures

Metric Views marks the opening to the general public of London’s Elizabeth line, formerly known as Crossrail, with a few statistics.

The Elisabeth Line an east-west railway route consisting of 41 stations that goes beneath central London, has cost £19 billion and took 13 years to build. It connects to the London Underground at several stations, including Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road, Liverpool Street and Canary Wharf. Its completion is four years late and £5 billion over budget but it has now been completed and it opened to the public on 24 May. The line reaches Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east and Reading and Heathrow in the west.

It is an amazing feat of engineering, designed and built exclusively in metric units. Here we look at this line in figures.

Much of the railway is new, up to 40 metres deep, covering 100 km of track of which 42 km is new tunnelling under London. 3.4 million tonnes of earth was removed to create the new tunnels. Here are some more Elizabeth line statistics:

  • 205 metres long trains.
  • 21 km of new twin-bore rail tunnels.
  • 51 419 m of rail have been installed.
  • 2.6 km of direct fixed track was installed.
  • 1.97 km of light floating track slab was installed.
  • 1.34 km of heavy floating track slab was installed.
  • Approximately 4 kilometres of platform edge screens in total.
  • 13 500 cubic metres of concrete.
  • Approximately 45 km of fire mains was installed in the routeway.
  • Approximately 42 km of evacuation walkway was installed in the routeway.
  • Over 1500 km of power cables.
  • 146 km of ‘leaky feeder’ radiating cable for internet users.
  • 6.2 m diameter rail tunnels under London.
  • 25 kV overhead traction power system.

The construction industry has worked in metric units since the early 1970’s. The Crossrail project is an example of the metric world we live in, even if a lot of metric usage is hidden from public view. Why shouldn’t public signage, especially road signage, be upgraded to metric units to reflect this?

You can find full details about the Elizabeth line (a.k.a. Crossrail) at:

4 thoughts on “Elizabeth Line in figures”

  1. I looked at the Daily Mail and the Daily Express websites to see what they said about the Elizabeth Line. On eof them said that it was 73 miles long, but otherwise they were devoid of anything to do with measurement – not even that the trains are nine coaches in length, nevermind the tunnel diameter or any other comparison with the tube.


  2. Martin, with the newest chatter among the fake news about Boris Johnson reportedly to bring back imperial units in time for the platinum jubilee, one has to wonder how much de-metrication can be achieved when industries like those that build and maintain industrial products like these trains and the infrastructure would find it totally uneconomical to revert to FFU.


  3. Personally and hopefully I think it would be a practical impossibility for any meaningful return to imperial.
    The cost and impracticability of imperial certification of scales and other legal measuring devices alone would prevent it happening.
    The problem in the real world is just the sheer unnecessary complication of everyday life, like an annoying fly buzzing around your head every way your turn. There are limits to the boycotting of traders one can do, itself an annoying complication I soon tire of.
    My fear would be that even with my resolve it would be easier to to ignore the trash than trying to avoid it. Simple facts verses ideology which is then media translated into acceptance then into preference. I doubt we will ever win.


  4. As a brand new rail line, the Elizabeth line’s core – known as the Crossrail Central Operating Section – is measured in kilometres. However, the classic lines that make up the western and eastern branches outside the tunnel portals are still measured in miles and chains, because those tracks are still used by other services (and will still be even once Elizabeth line services run direct from Reading and Heathrow to Shenfield and Abbey Wood). For anyone who doesn’t know, there are 80 chains per mile, making one chain equal to 22 yards or 66 feet.

    There is one exception – the tunnels to Heathrow are owned by Heathrow Airport Ltd, and, as a new line built in the 1990s, are *also* measured in metric. They don’t start at zero at the changeover point or at the airport, however – instead they are measured from Paddington. The changeover point is at 12 miles 27 chains on the Network Rail side which is indicated as 19,846 metres on the Heathrow side.


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