Londoners Told to Mind The Gap (It's 150 Feet) on Crossrail Line

  • Passengers may face a race down platform to catch their train
  • New stations built ‘very long’ to accommodate growth, CEO says

The Stepney Green interchange beneath London on Nov. 16, 2016. 

Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

London’s new Crossrail route may speed people across the U.K. capital faster than ever before, but passengers at some stations will face a lengthy walk, and possibly a sprint, to catch their train.

Extra-long platforms built to accommodate future growth on the 15-billion-pound ($20 billion) line, the first sections of which are due to open next year, mean trains may stop as much as 150 feet from the point where passengers join the platform.

“When you first come down to the station and you go to the back of the train, typically you would have to walk about 46 meters to get to the first carriage,” Crossrail Chief Executive Officer Andrew Wolstenholme said. “People have to get used to this.”

Crossrail’s stations will be about twice the size of a standard stop on the city’s subway, allowing Transport for London, which will manage the route, to lengthen trains if and when demand increases. Clear signposting will therefore be “very important,” Wolstenholme said.

To be known as the Elizabeth Line, after Britain’s monarch, the Crossrail network will stretch 73 miles from Reading in the Thames valley to Shenfield in Essex and boost train capacity in central London by 10 percent. While platforms will typically span 250 meters, the Bombardier Inc. trains ordered for the route measure 200 meters, leaving a schlep the length of an Olympic swimming pool.

“People will be a bit surprised,” Wolstenholme said at the Policy Forum for London conference earlier this month, while adding that the walk is “the price you have to pay for quite correctly investing in future capacity.”

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