Elizabeth Line, the first day, Abbey Wood to Paddington.

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It is Tuesday, 24th May 2022, and the first day of the Elizabeth line being open through central London. And as luck would have it, I had an important meeting in Chelsea late in the afternoon. I struggle with stairs, and also walking distances, for health reasons, and I share some of my important findings for others with similar invisible disabilities.

Also, I had already worked part of the route for initial access to the Elizabeth line. I had visited Canary Wharf recently, and found the distance between the DLR and Jubilee stations and this brand new station a factor. Further investigation suggested that the DLR station at Custom House for Excel was a great station to swap lines.

So, my day started at Upminster Station, at 11.31 am, travelling via the c2c to Limehouse (at the front of the train), where a few short steps gets you onto the DLR. A DLR train towards Beckton is a short ride to Custom House. Here, a short walk, including lifts, joins the Elizabeth Line. I caught the 12.15 train towards Abbey Wood.

I was in carriage 8 of 9 on the train, near the back. I found out I needed to walk the entire distance of the train to access the station, which was at the front of the train, including a couple of lifts. Not so well planned. There were lots of excited people waiting to take the trip for the first time. I know people who were on the first ever train, this will be good enough for me.

I left Abbey Wood at 12.41 on the beautiful Elizabeth line. It is absolutely brilliant. Less than 30 minutes later I arrived at Paddington. I was very impressed with this new station. There were two escalators out of the station level, and another up to the main Paddington Station Rail station. This involved minimal walking. The Rail station had toilets and advertised toilets on the same level on platform 12. I later discovered the circle line also feeds into this main Station. All very good.

I still had several hours to fill, and chose to next visit the brand new Liverpool street station, which I call Moorgate. I reversed my tracks down to the Elizabeth line, and travelled back via (Bond street closed), Tottenham court road, Finsbury and then Liverpool street.

On exiting the train here, you have two exit options, and I happened to be at about the middle of the train, so both were equidistant to the escalators. I later discovered that the lifts appear to be at the ends of the station, both next or following the line of the escalators. I quickly learnt that using the lifts always placed you at an end of the train. I tend to use escalators as there are never enough lifts for those who actually need them.

I did similar for Finsbury station on the Elizabeth line, which appears to be a more compact station. I exited via the escalators to the Broadgate exit, which is by the Smithfield Meat market (which is where the London museum is moving to). And then onto Tottenham court road, and I know this station as being a huge network of tunnels, and very accessible with long walks. I decided it was here I would head for the central line, and used the lifts to my advantage, but NOT down to the Northern line.

Off track for a moment, I took the central line to Bond street, the jubilee line to Green Park. At Green Park, always use the escalators, as the lifts are accessible but involve walking huge distances. The last section of exiting Green Park to street level and the buses has a lift worth taking, but this was out of order. A walk into the park, and up the slope in the rain was my only option, to the buses, a quick ride on the 14 bus towards Putney Heath brings you to the Royal Brompton.

The staff (all of them at the Brompton are amazing), from the guy at the door who makes sure you should be there, and then makes sure you know where you are going, and that you are OK, to the amazing health team, technicians, doctors etc. All brilliant.

Back to the bus, on the way home twenty minutes later. I take the 14 bus to South Kensington, where it is discovered that the District and much of the Circle lane are badly broken. In desperation you manage to find a train, via the Circle lane, towards Paddington!

At Paddington, the circle line is a fairly easy walk up into the main Rail station, and hey presto, the Elizabeth line now runs from here. A short ride on the Elizabeth line train gets you back to Canary Wharf. It is not actually that far to walk from here to the Jubilee station, but I found it quite a distance. The usual Jubilee train to West Ham, again only a short walk to the c2c trains, via a lift up to the station was OK, but I made it. And back to Upminster, and home from there.

I walked about 8,500 steps today which is pretty remarkable for me. I loved the Elizabeth line, I think I will be using it again in a couple of days, and then some ….

Thanks.

On Thursday, I decided to try a slightly different route. From Upminster I took the c2c towards London, and changed at West Ham, to change onto the district line. It requires a short walk, and a couple of lifts, or stairs. If I had changed at Barking, it would have been a short walk across the platform, and a few more minutes on the District line.

The District line continues and goes via Whitechapel, and this is a brand new station and amazing, with lifts everywhere. Whitechapel incorporates the Elizabeth line, and the District line. There is some walking necessary, but it is all on a level, except the lifts, escalators or stairs.

I had an interesting conversation with one of the staff on the main Elizabeth line platform as to why TFL recommended that those in wheelchairs should always head for the centre carriages of a train, probably carriage 5, as the lifts were always at the ends of the platforms. He agreed with me about the lifts, but also pointed out that some stations outside this section of the Elizabeth line were better served when those in wheelchairs were in these central carriages, particularly Abbey Wood, and some of those heading for Reading, and or Heathrow.

Incidentally, Whitechapel and Abbey road only have one lift at the station end, Most stations appear to have lifts at both ends.

I joined the Elizabeth line train towards Paddington. The total journey time from leaving Upminster was just short of one hour. Wow.

I then chose to enter Paddington, and find the train towards Heathrow, another Elizabeth line train. I do not know how regularly they run, but the journey took about 30 minutes. I then returned home, in a reversal of the journey to Heathrow. That’s it, really.

As I struggle with walking, I would recommend changing at Barking to join the District line except if the district line is problematical, I would recommend the change at Custom House, where the DLR and the Elizabeth line are very close to each other.

I don’t recommend using Canary Wharf as a station to change lines as they are very distant from each other. Unless you are a normal, and fit person, then it is your choice.

Actually, my preferences change all the time, as I find new information, and I visited the Elizabeth Line today for the fourth time in less than two weeks.

I was on my usual trip to a brilliant hospital in Brompton, and had lost of time to kill on the way. It so happened that the district and circle lines were severe for most of the day, mainly signalling problems, but this was a side issue to choice of routes to take.

I have been looking at maps for Poplar station, as when you enter the station in real life, you can see Canary wharf Elizabeth line station, and I can confirm this is the case. The google maps are already getting out of date in regards to the new stations, so don’t trust them. Anyway, I decided I would try visiting Canary wharf DLR station and find the best way to the Elizabeth line station. It is not simple if you don’t know the station/s. It is obvious if you do.

I travelled from Upminster on the c2c line from Upminster, towards Fenchurch street, and changed at the stop before at Limehouse. A very short hop takes you from the front of the c2c train onto the DLR, and two stations onwards, making sure you get the Lewisham line brings you to Canary wharf.

If you know what the stations look like, it is clear that you need to exit the DLR station and then turn left. Simple as that. The various stations are on different levels, and there are ample lifts or escalators. The walk took me about ten minutes, walking quite slowly.

The Elizabeth line station is amazing. The whole line from Abbey Wood to Paddington is brilliant, very fast and well served by lifts and escalators at all stations. All stations have multiple entry and exit points, and these are misleading at first, but there are lots of maps dotted around everywhere, take your time to acquaint yourself.

I chose to exit at Farringdon for no particular reason. It is a fully accessible station. After a short break I chose to enter the old Farringdon station to get a circle line train to Kensington, I think. This was a mistake as I found out later, as I found myself on the Hammersmith & City line. I escaped at Kings Cross which shows itself as am accessible station. Ouch.

Kings Cross is a very large station. I walked for miles to get back onto the Piccadilly line, and then onwards to Green Park. This is a good station if you remember to use the escalators, if you can. The lifts are huge distances to walk. Excepting the last lift out o the station up to street level.

There are multiple buses at Green Park, heading towards Fulham broadway which take me to Chelsea / Brompton; and after a brilliant stop at the N=Brompton hospital I headed home again.

Stupidly, at the correct bus stop, I chose an 11 bus which goes via Westminster, This was very slow, and when it drops you at Westminster, the signage is non-existent. I stupidly entered a tunnel to get to the fully accessible station, which is down some steps and up another bunch of steps. Silly me. The station is brilliant if you know where it is!

The last part of the trip home was via the noisy, and now old Jubilee line to West Ham, and a walk to the c2C where you have to ensure you get the correct train back to Upminster.

I document some of this on my accessible train station guide, but I am one person amongst the millions in London, plus tourists; and if I struggle with the London train system, I have no idea how others cope with similar levels of accessibility problems.

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