The Elizabeth line will open on Tuesday, but Reading commuters will not see all of its benefits for another year.

For all the fanfare surrounding London’s newest train route, you would be forgiven for thinking it was finished – albeit four years later than originally planned.

Travelers boarding at Reading, Maidenhead and Slough will soon have access to more modern, less crowded trains, and some will have faster commutes, but a seamless transition into central or east London will still take until ‘no later than May 2023’, according to Crossrail.

Reading Chronicle:

The Elizabeth Line is currently split into three separate parts: Reading to Paddington, Paddington to Abbey Wood and Liverpool Street to Shenfield.

May 24 will see the opening of the Paddington to Abbey Wood section, meaning all components will be operational, but not connected.

Commuters from its Berkshire stations will still have to change at Paddington Mainline if they want to continue their journey through London, and again at Liverpool Street if they want to go north-east.

Reading Chronicle: The three sections of the Elizabeth Line (Credit: TfL and Crossrail)The three sections of the Elizabeth Line (Credit: TfL and Crossrail)

What does this mean?

To what extent travelers will feel a difference on their journey after May 24 depends on their destination.

For those heading from Reading to some central stations like Tottenham Court, the Paddington to Abbey Wood section of the Elizabeth Line will save you a change – no more Bakerloo/Circle > Central.

Don’t expect a service to Bond Street though, as this will not open with the rest of the line on May 24 due to construction delays, according to a Guardian report.

To travel south on the Northern and Bakerloo lines or Thameslink, or to access some central line stations, you’ll have to make just as many changes as without the new line.

The good news is the Elizabeth Line from Paddington to Farringdon, where you can change for the Thames Link, is almost direct, with just one other stop at Tottenham Court.

And while you might not save on changes, you could still save time, with Crossrail boasting its new Class 345 trains can reach 90mph (on outer sections) and carry 1,500 passengers.

There will initially be 12 of them running per hour in each direction between Paddington and Abbey Wood.

Where the Elizabeth line really starts to shine for Berkshire commuters is if you’re heading further south-east than central London, avoiding the many stops and starts in your journey that you would otherwise need to get to the likes of Canary Wharf, Custome House or Woolwich.

The north-east is also much more accessible, with the addition of new stations.

The journeys will be air-conditioned, with real-time travel information in each carriage for easy onward journey planning.

When will it be finished?

The next phase of opening after May 24 will integrate services from the east and west into the new central tunnels and stations, but this is not expected until Autumn this year. Bond Street is expected to open at the same time.

Reading Chronicle: The Elizabeth Line changes for Autumn (Credit: TfL and Crossrail)The Elizabeth Line changes for Autumn (Credit: TfL and Crossrail)

Services from Reading and Heathrow will run to Abbey Wood without a change, and from Shenfield through to Paddington.

The service in the central stations between Paddington and Whitechapel will be 20 trains per hour during the peak.

All sections of the railway will be connected and the final timetable will be in place no later than May 2023, according to Crossrail.

Reading Chronicle: The completed Elizabeth Line (Credit: TfL and Crossrail)The completed Elizabeth Line (Credit: TfL and Crossrail)

Why the delay?

The Elizabeth line consists of three sections - the newly built central section, and the east and west surface sections.

Part of the complexity of the Elizabeth line is that each of the three sections has a different signalling system.

All three signalling systems need to work together, and the new Class 345 trains need to smoothly transition from one to another.