Elizabeth Line: the route and how much it costs to ride

The Elizabeth Line has opened and is expected to cut travel times and ease pressure on other parts of London’s transport network. Here's what you need to know about the zones and fares

Sign for the Elizabeth tube line
(Image credit: Getty images)

After years of waiting, almost 35 years in fact, the Elizabeth Line is up and running. Named after the Queen, who visited Paddington station last week to see it herself, it attracted hundreds of train fans and London workers when it opened on 24 May. 

The Elizabeth line isn’t just a tube line as it goes across a significant amount of the National rail network and uses infrastructure from the Great Eastern and Great Western train network. 

See more: Revealed: £263 million of unused credit on TFL Oyster cards - how to get it back

We explain everything you need to know: where it runs, hours it operates, what the fares are and how much time you can potentially save commuting. 

Which London zones does the Elizabeth line cover?

Right now, the Elizabeth line covers zones 1 to 4. This central section of the line will operate 12 trains per hour between Paddington and Abbey Wood. The new station at Bond street, however, won’t open until later this year.

Over the next 12 months commuters will see a phased opening that will extend all the way out to Reading, Berkshire, in the west of England and Shenfield, Essex, in the east of England. The line will also take holidaymakers to Heathrow Airport, with stops at Terminals 2, 3, 4 and 5.

During the phasing-in stage, the line will run in three separate sections: between Reading and Heathrow to Paddington; Paddington to Abbey Wood, and Shenfiel to Liverpool Street.

In Autumn, trains from Heathrow will start running through the central section of the line via Paddington.

Once it is fully open in May 2023, the Elizabeth line will cover all nine London zones and some areas outside the capital.

When can I use the Elizabeth Line?

The Elizabeth Line will be open Monday to Saturday from 6.30am to 1pm. The Sunday service is expected once final-stage tests are complete.

How much time does the Elizabeth Line save?

The new line will save commuters a significant amount of time due to faster and bigger trains - as many as 1,500 passengers per train. 

The biggest winners will be those travelling from the commuter belt to central London, with the journey between Abbey Wood and Tottenham Court Road set to be reduced the most - from 51 minutes to just 23 minutes - saving commuters 28 minutes.

Meanwhile, a journey from Paddington to Canary Wharf will take only 18 minutes.

How much does it cost to ride the Elizabeth Line?

Fares on the Elizabeth Line will be the same as those on the London Underground. London mayor Sadiq Khan confirmed this in 2018.

This means that journeys within zones 1 to 6 will cost the same as a normal Tube journey costs, while fares for elsewhere on the Elizabeth Line will be the same as those on pre-existing rail services.

The fare cap for zones 1 to 6 rose to £14.10 in March for travel within 24 hours. This means that if you pay £11.60 to go from Heathrow to Paddington, you will pay up to £2.50 for further journeys on TfL services on the same day.

TfL’s website reiterates that ‘fares on the Elizabeth line from the east or west into the central section stations will be exactly the same as travelling today to a London Underground station in the same zone as the required Elizabeth line station’.

Katie is staff writer at The Money Edit. She was the former staff writer at The Times and The Sunday Times. Her experience includes writing about personal finance, culture, travel and interviews celebrities.  Her investigative work on financial abuse resulted in a number of mortgage prisoners being set free - and a nomination for the Best Personal Finance Story of the Year in the Headlinemoney awards 2021.