Elizabeth line marks second birthday as new passenger journey record set

Today marks two years since that glorious day when services first commenced on the Elizabeth line between Paddington and Abbey Wood.

The anniversary has seen TfL reveal that 350 million journeys have been made since 2022 with a new record set on 18th April 2024 when 787,000 trips were made across the line.

Two years old

Since the initial stage through the core between Abbey Wood and Paddington commenced, the full route has opened to Shenfield in the east and Reading in the west as passenger numbers go from strength to strength.

It wasn’t all smooth sailing of course. Years of anticipation and then delays were endured before the line opened and areas of London saw a transformation in journey potential.

Abbey Wood station

But since then it’s been an incredible success and the latest four-weekly figures show strong growth and no sign of slowing down.

Transport for London put out a press release today marking the occasion and highlight expectations of another eight per cent growth on passenger numbers this financial year.

It’s easy to forget how much has changed in two years not only with transport links but surrounding development. Looking through photos of opening day and blocks beside Abbey Wood station were far from finished.

Taken May 2022

Yet not all landowners nearby have embraced or made the most of the line. More on that soon.

Issues

While the line was late to open, issues arose after trains begun running. Reliability has been poor at times with the whole line going down. Issues around west London have been highlighted by TfL and Network Rail.

Bond Street didn’t open alongside the rest of the line.

Software issues also plagued trains for some time too.

Custom House station being closed after problems on the line

On the plus side, since 2022 subsequent transport developments have arrived which includes Superloop routes feeding into stations such as the SL3 at Abbey Wood and SL2 past Ilford.

SL3 heading to Abbey Wood station

That enabled many to have faster access to the line.

Housing and development

A line is little without the ability to serve additional passengers of course and facilitating new housing around stations was also key goal.

Transport for London stated today that “the Elizabeth line has directly impacted the development of 55,000 new homes, with 60 per cent of employment growth in greater London within 1km of an Elizabeth line station”.

As covered a fair bit on this site, development around many stations has been pretty strong.

Woolwich is seeing more towers rise as we speak and plans were recently revealed for another 660 homes nearby.

Thousands of homes being built near Woolwich station.

Woolwich station itself is already a victim of its own success and the lack of a second entrance and exit looks ever more like a mistake. It’s not far off usership at Canary Wharf according to TfL.

Around 2,600 homes are also now underway to the east around Plumstead/Thamesmead. Work has yet to begin though on 500 approved homes above the eastern half of the Woolwich station box.

Around 500 homes at Armourers Court approved

Some other sites have taken a very long time to move forward. Over 801 homes over the road at Woolwich Exchange has been delayed until 2025. Many others are on the cards including student blocks.

The next station west is at Custom House. The area nearby is seeing work on 700 homes.

Crane up near Custom House station

Meanwhile at Canary Wharf a major expansion of the estate to North Quay is imminent.

Billingsgate market is set for redevelopment in years to come.

North Quay site with Elizabeth line station to right

I won’t go on covering every single station as we’d be here all day but many see similar plans along the line from east to west.

However considering the press release makes a big deal on how the line is a trigger for housing (and it is) it’s a bit odd to then have a quote from a Peabody representative given they have resolutely failed to embrace the new line to provide many needed new homes around Abbey Wood station and south Thamesmead.

Vacant site seconds from station

Many plots under their ownership are as windswept and desolate today as they were five or ten years ago. They’ve completed just one plot – Southmere – in a decade. Numerous others remain to be built upon.

The TfL press release today states “Abbey Wood is one of the largest regeneration areas in London” which is wrong.

Peabody site on Harrow Manorway lying flattened for years situated five minute’s walk to Elizabeth line

South Thamesmead (walkable to Abbey Wood station) is the town that’s set to see far more housing than Abbey Wood, yet despite the Elizabeth line being in the works for an age and then suffering substantial delay in opening Peabody have still been extremely slow to build at many south Thamesmead plots under their control over a decade since taking on Gallions Housing Association.

Masses of flattened land line Harrow Manorway to give one stark example.

Yet another vacant plot of Peabody-owned land

And while most new homes will be in Thamesmead, Peabody are also sitting on two cleared sites in Abbey Wood seconds from the station. One at the former Harrow Inn and another across the tracks beside the Sainsbury’s superstore.

The pub site gained approval for new homes some years ago but nothing has been started despite the Elizabeth line arriving two years ago.

Looking through gap in fence to extensive Cross Quarter 2 site empty for a decade under Peabody ownership

The other Abbey Wood site named Cross Quarter 2 doesn’t even have outline planning after ten years of Peabody ownership let alone detailed designs.

Not even a sniff of consultation.

Long demolished homes with land now sitting empty. A three minute walk to Abbey Wood station

Despite failing to build at many sites under their control near the Elizabeth line, Peabody now want a DLR extension to north Thamesmead and their quote in the TfL press release gives them a chance to crowbar that in.

Presumably so they can sit on numerous vacant sites around further new transport links?

The signs aren’t great in north Thamesmead. A £23 million Bus Rapid Transit system from north Thamesmead to Woolwich station is also set to start in coming years which could provide transport links for the first few thousand homes in north Thamesmead.

Thamesmead Binsey Walk site should have been completed by now. Peabody years behind schedule here

That of course requires Peabody to start designing a future for north Thamesmead – and they aren’t. Much like they’ve failed to capitalise upon the potential of the Elizabeth line two miles away in south Thamesmead and Abbey Wood, it seems a stretch they’ll build a single new home in north Thamesmead by the time the £23m rapid bus link is built given funding deadlines.

So happy birthday to the new line. It’s been amazing. But if proclaiming how excellent new transport links can generate new homes and wider economic growth – which they do – it’s probably best not to use Peabody to demonstrate it. 10 years of failure. Will they improve over the next ten?

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I've lived in south east London most of my life growing up in Greenwich borough and working in the area for many years. The site has contributors on occasion and we cover many different topics. Living and working in the area offers an insight into what is happening locally.

    6 thoughts on “Elizabeth line marks second birthday as new passenger journey record set

    • Still waiting for just a SMIDGE of gentrification in Abbey Wood to justify the sky high house prices and rents. Is it so much to ask for a nice coffee shop?

      Instead we have a new ‘shop’ on WIlton Road which has to be the absolute worst attempt at a money laundering front I have EVER seen in my life.

      Reply
    • TfL and those they’ve got to comment seem to have been taken over by estate agents and are erasing Thamesmead from history. One quote puts the Lakeside centre built as part of Thamesmead in the 1970s as now being in Abbey Wood (it ain’t and never was) as well as generally mixing up Thamesmead and Abbey Wood. Pretty hopeless and as for the Peabody feller having the front to put his name on it after the shambles they’ve made of housing locally words fail me.

      Sort yourself out TFL and get basic facts correct and you too Bow Arts. You’re in Thamesmead. Don’t try to pretend elsewhere. Stop the erasing of history and a town’s identity. I know these releases have a hint of BS but come on.

      Reply
    • I did see this and raise an eyebrow; ‘In 2019 Bow Arts moved to Abbey Wood and renovated the iconic Lakeside Center’

      The Lakeside Centre was an integral part of the iconic first part of Thamesmead located beside Southmere lake. It’s as CORE a part of original Thamesmead as the concrete brutalist architecture, the canals and all that make it such a recognisable place. That’s a BS attempt at rebranding and I don’t care if its close to Abbey Wood its in Thamesmead. It IS Thamesmead. Start trying to pretend its not and you start to erase the history of one’s of the biggest, most important and recognisable post-war housing projects in London if not the country.

      I mean I know Peabody have flattened much of it and just left expanses of rubble everywhere thus the town isn’t having much luck between those who want to destroy it and those who seek to rebrand it.

      Reply
    • The sheer gall of Peabody is something isn’t it? To be pushing for more public money to be spent on a DLR line when asked for a quote about the Elizabeth line after abject failure for a decade around Abbey Wood station is astonishing. Not content with already kicking out hundreds of households they now seek to do the same thing to more in Thamesmead as covered recently on the BBC and Guardian while leaving a trail of destruction behind them. There sites are just piles of rubble.

      Given Brexit, Covid and other housing issues I could understand delays but its been ten years of failure and it wasn’t all economically terrible. Other developers/housing associations have got things built since 2014 and that was without the massive benefit of a major rail line on their doorstep.

      What is concerning however is they evict people, demolish then either have zero plans or just a vague timeline of building in the 2030s. So everyone is in limbo and the townscape is fractured. I knew people evicted for the rebuild many years ago. Nothing is proposed in any detail now on that land and Peabody said it’ll be 15 years until they build near the petrol garage. It’s empty land after they took a wrecking ball to it all! I also don’t understand why they have apparently zero plans for the mass of land beside Sainsburys when you cannot get a better location for new homes given the extremely close proximity of the station. A complete failure not only to build but even consider building or doing basic preliminary steps for future development. Just let it rot for a decade. They have failed so badly and then have the nerve to start demanding the DLR. One step at a time eh? I’d like them to go. Sell up and let someone else do something. All the many wastelands locally under their possession are a blight. They leave the area like a tip then have the gall to start asking for billions more public money for another rail line.

      Reply
      • Yep they plan to build on areas along Harrow Manorway up to the late 2030s. We could be talking about the Elizabeth lines 20 year anniversary before they even complete. It’s the the spot where they forced shop owners to close, families to leave, demolished buildings and have no intention to construct anything. About 200 metres from Abbey Wood station. A scandal really.

        Reply
    • I should have added Peabody are not the only developer in north Thamesmead with Berkeley Homes and St George also involved.

      It appears with Peabody they lack the capability to work on more than one area of Thamesmead to any great degree at a time. So they’re doing something in West Thamesmead now and then lack the ability to develop elsewhere to the levels required. Stretched too thin. They can’t cope with so much land. Having one overwhelmed organisation controlling so much of the area and its development has just not delivered and worse, shows no sign of delivering.

      If they finally got to grips with their many plots around Abbey Wood station and begun drawing up a masterplan for the first homes in north Thamesmead in advance of the £23m BRT project connecting to Woolwich station then perhaps that’d be positive signs for future housing and a more substantive transport investment, but right now who could trust them to achieve anything? I expect the BRT to start without a single new home being built from 2026. There’s just no specific consultation or outline housing plans apparent or emerging. Even if there was it’d be some time before buildings rise but at least they’d be tangible progress.

      At the rate Peabody move even if a DLR extension was approved I could even see it start in the 2030s without a single new Peabody home built nearby. They have a lamentable record around Abbey Wood and Thamesmead for providing new homes considering the sheer amount of investment the Elizabeth line provided.

      Reply

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