Let us go back in time to 2017, I had been to the Crossrail exhibition at the Museum of Dockland and was invited to go to look at the new Canary Wharf station for Crossrail.
With considerable excitement, I made my way down the escalators to the shiny new platforms and then peered along the tunnels.
Although the station was still being fitted out, there seemed no reason that the station would not be ready in 2018.
That early optimism was rather misplaced and here we are on the 24th May 2022 and I am making my way to the Canary Wharf station to take my first trip on the Elizabeth Line.
It is worth remembering that the new Elizabeth Line is one of the biggest changes in London infrastructure in a century. Three-and-a-half years late and at least £4bn over-budget, the Elizabeth line has finally opened. When it’s fully operational, the new rail line, will serve up to 200 million passengers each year. The line is expected to increase London’s train capacity by 10%.
The project was originally known as Crossrail has built a 73-mile (118km) railway line all across south-east England. It runs from Essex in the east to Berkshire in the west, running underground through central London. There are two western branches, which terminate at Reading and Heathrow Airport, and two eastern branches, ending at Shenfield in Essex and Abbey Wood in south-east London.
Ten new stations have been built for the central London section, which connect Paddington, Bond Street, Liverpool St and Canary Wharf.
What you will first notice is trains are bigger, carrying up to 1,500 passengers – significantly more than a London Underground train.
They also seem quieter and more airy, although the train was not full, there seemed plenty of space.
For people that live on the Island and Canary Wharf, getting to Whitechapel is now only 5 mins away and Liverpool Street around 8 mins. The major difference is going east to west is now much easier and the once torturous trek to Paddington and Heathrow should now be much easier.
At the moment, a full service is not available yet. Initially, trains will run six days a week, every five minutes from 06:30 to 23:00 with no Sunday service. The line will operate in three parts – from Abbey Wood to Paddington, from Heathrow and Reading to Paddington, and Shenfield to Liverpool Street. Bond Street station in central London will not open until later this year, due to problems during construction. From the autumn, trains from Heathrow will no longer terminate at Paddington, and will continue on through the central section of the line. Passengers won’t be able to travel directly from one end of the line to the other until May 2023.
The new line will mean significant shorter times for many travellers. Elizabeth line fares are identical to those on London Underground. Services currently operating as TfL Rail will remain unchanged although there will be a £7.20 premium on journeys to and from Heathrow airport.
Peak single journeys to Heathrow from central London (weekdays between 06:30-09:30 and 16:00-19:00) will cost £12.70 and be £2 cheaper at other times. In comparison, peak and off-peak Tube fares are currently £5.50 and £3.50 respectively, while the Heathrow Express costs £25.
Older person’s freedom passes allowing free travel, including to Heathrow and Reading, will be accepted after 09:00 on weekdays and at weekends.
At last, Crossrail or the Elizabeth Line is here and opens up plenty of options for travel in and beyond London.
It is like the old days (pre Covid) in West India Dock with the arrival of another superyacht. The latest visitor is the Gitana which has a length of 48.2m and was built in 1997 at the Feadship yard in the Netherlands.
The Gitana which was previously named Carolina, Noa VII and Katrion, features exterior design by Guido de Groot Design, interior design by John Munford Design, with naval architecture by De Voogt Naval Architects.
Up to 12 guests are accommodated on board the Gitana, and she also has accommodation for 10 crew members.
The yacht Gitana has a steel hull and aluminium superstructure. She is powered by 2 Caterpillar Inc engines, which give her a cruising speed of 13.5 kn and a top speed of 14.8 kn.
According information on the net, Gitana superyacht is currently for sale at an asking price of €16,500,000.
On a beautiful spring day, I took a wander into West India Dock to see the latest arrival. The motoryacht A2 has a very interesting history of owners.
The yacht A2 was built by Feadship in 1983. She was built as Circus II, for William Bennett. He was the founder of the gaming giant Circus Circus Enterprises. She was later sold to Les Wexner who named her Limitless. Later she was bought by Sir Thomas Ogden, who named her Masquerade.
In 2011 she was bought by George Lindemann, who named her A2 and sent her for a refit to Pendennis. The yacht’s classical design led to her use as a support vessel for the schooner Adela, which is owned by the Lindemann family.
What makes the yacht really interesting is to see the way that superyachts have developed since the 1980s, the A2 looks old fashioned compared to modern yachts but has a lot more character.
The refit by Pendennis took the classic yacht but bought it up to date with re-engineering all systems, installation of new deck equipment, modern bridge technology and state-of-the-art AV equipment throughout. The yacht can accommodate 12 guests and has a crew of 9.
Also in the dock is PHI which has been the subject of much debate, allegedly owned by a Russian oligarch, the ship has been in the dock for a number of weeks and may be here for a considerable time.