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Elizabeth Line: The wait is over, but was it worth it?

Maddy Swain Senior Executive 06/14/2022

The Elizabeth Line is finally up and running, but are people aware and what do they think of it?

As part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations, the first phase of the Elizabeth line launched on the 24th May and, according to TFL, over one million journeys had been made within the first five days of its opening. Its development took a total of 13 years and cost around £18.9bn, with the aim of increasing London rail capacity by 10% – but was it worth it?

We found that out of those who are aware of it (the Elizabeth Line), 43% agree that it is money well spent, 18% disagree, 30% neither agree nor disagree and 9% are unsure.

I have been lucky and made my first Elizabeth Line journey a week after it opened. I was thrilled by the experience – it almost felt futuristic with its modern technology, efficiency, and airiness (something we aren’t used to when travelling around London). On the big day, I boarded the train at Paddington and disembarked at Liverpool Street, taking a total of 10 minutes, and cutting the journey time down by nearly half. From my view, everyone appeared just as excited as I was, delighted at the chance to test out the long-awaited railway line. However, are these positive emotions felt by all?

Awareness and Understanding

Results from Savanta’s consumer omnibus which surveyed a nationally representative sample of 2,230 UK adults, revealed that around a quarter (27%) are unaware of it. However, I found this statistic surprisingly high as, being a Londoner, it has been floating around within our local news for many years. When looking at the demographics of awareness, it appears to increase by age, 58% of those aged 25 and under are aware, compared to 76% of those aged 56 and over. Moreover, males are slightly more aware than females (73% vs. 62% respectively) and when looking at regions, unsurprisingly, those living in London are the most aware, with 90% awareness and those living in the North (including Scotland and Northern Ireland) are the least aware, with 58% awareness.

When determining current understanding of what the Elizabeth line actually is, around two in five (41%) of those who are aware of it know that it’s a new railway line going from the West of London to the East of London and the same proportion (41%) mistakenly thought it was a new tube line. TFL state that although it is called a ‘Line’, it is in fact a new mode of transport, rather than an extension of the tube.

Usage and Benefits

Nearly half (45%) of those who live within the catchment area will use it at least once per month, with 27% reporting they will use it weekly – as this is still early days, perhaps weekly usage will increase as more travellers become aware of these faster routes. Those who are aged 41-55 predict the most regular use (55%) and those who are aged 25 and under or 56 and over predict the lowest regular use (41%).

The majority (66%) of those living within the catchment area agree that the Elizabeth line is beneficial to them and only 7% disagree. Additionally, with the cost of the line supposedly running over by around £4bn, we wanted to assess whether consumers believe the cost was worth it. We found that out of those who are aware of it, 43% agree that it is money well spent, 18% disagree, 30% neither agree nor disagree and 9% are unsure. Half (51%) of those aged 25 and under agree that it is money well spent and, as age rises, levels of agreement decline, with only 28% of those aged 55 and over agreeing. Unsurprisingly, the majority (70%) of those living within the catchment area agree that it’s money well spent, compared to 40% of those not living within the catchment area.

So, was it all worth it? From my experience, I believe that initially it is worthwhile for those living within the catchment area, and this is also demonstrated by the majority agreeing that it’s beneficial and money well spent. For those living outside the catchment area, hopefully the benefits will filter through after opportunities to experience it themselves…only time will tell.

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