I just got home from an afternoon which can only be called interesting. It started well enough: I set off to Woolwich earlier full of enthusiasm to try out the newest addition to London’s underground network. The new station there was incredible, gleaming and clean. The train arrived, the doors opened and I got on without a problem. The thing was, I hadn’t actually decided where I was going to get off. Looking at the map though, I had an idea: if I got off sat Liverpool Street I could then take the other branch of the Lizzie Line just to see how well it worked. Whereas the branch I was on was marked as fully wheelchair accessible, the Liverpool Street to Shenfield via Stratford Line was marked mostly as step free from street to platform, but not platform to train. That made me want to clarify what the situation was at Liverpool Street.
There, however, the fun started. Getting off the train at Liverpool Street proved easy enough, with nice, smooth new platforms. Finding the way to the other branch of the new line wasn’t as easy as I assumed it would be though: the huge station is pretty labyrinthine, and in the end I had to ask a member of staff to guide me, needing to exit the station to go back in another entrance. I was then quite disappointed to find that there, there were no level platforms so the staff had to put ramps up to allow me on to the train. As it happened, it wasn’t much of an issue, but nonetheless I would have preferred to have been able to get onto the train on my own. They told me that, in a few months, such issues would be resolved.
The trip to Stratford seemed surprisingly short; it was also as smooth and comfortable as the first leg. As at Liverpool Street, ramps were needed to let me off the train, but staff were waiting so it wasn’t a problem. My afternoon was then a matter of a short walk to the Olympic park avoiding the showers, before getting the Jubilee Line back to North Greenwich and the bus home.
This was obviously only a brief preliminary investigation: a short jaunt into central London and back – I didn’t want to stay up there for long due to the rain. Yet I must say, what I experienced today was pretty amazing. Of course there are some things to be ironed out in terms of accessibility, and I really wish such issues weren’t always delayed and deprioritised, to be resolved in the autumn. However, that aside, what London has achieved with this project is phenomenal. The Elisabeth Link really does feel like no other tube line I have ever been on, it is so fast, smooth and sleek. Today feels like the start of a new chapter in the epic tome that is London’s public transport.