LondonLife – Icons turn purple to celebrate Elizabeth Line opening…

Marble Arch lights up for the launch of the Elizabeth Line.. PICTURE: © TfL

Iconic London locations including Tower Bridge, The London Eye, and Marble Arch turned purple last night to mark the opening of the new Elizabeth Line today. Thousands of people are today expected to use the new Tube line which provides faster journeys between Paddington and Abbey Wood via 10 new stations using Class 345 trains that are more and than one-and-a-half times longer than a standard Tube train and able to carry 1,500 passengers. The line’s opening is the latest step in the £18.8 billion Crossrail project which is linking Reading, to the west of London, with Heathrow before travelling through central London to connect with Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east. Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, said it was an “historic day”. “This is a huge moment, not just for London but the entire country – particularly in this special Jubilee year…This brand new line is the most significant addition to our transport network in decades.” Last week, the Queen and Prince Edward attended Paddington Station to mark the completion of the new line.

The London Eye illuminated. PICTURE: © TfL
Woolwich Town Hall lit up in purple. PICTURE: © TfL
A very excited first customer on the Elizabeth Line at its opening on 24th May. PICTURE: © TfL
HM Queen Elizabeth II, HRH Prince Edward Earl of Wessex, at unveiling of commemorative plaque at Paddington Station on 17th May. PICTURE: © TfL

Where’s London’s oldest…(unchanged) bus route?

London’s oldest unchanged bus route in London is commonly cited as Route 24 which runs over seven miles from Hampstead to Pimlico.

The route was first launched in 1910 but initially stopped at Victoria Station. It was extended to Pimlico just two years later in 1912 and has largely unchanged ever since (apparently with the exception of some minor adjustments due to one-way traffic schemes).

The route, which operates 24 hours a day, does take in some key landmarks of London – among them Trafalgar Square, Horse Guards Parade and Parliament Square. In 2013, Transport for London, said some 28,000 people used the route each day.

In 1965, the double-decker buses on the route – which have always been powered by motors rather than horses – became the first to have front entry. In 1988, it became the first route through central London to be privatised when purchased by Grey-Green (the line is now operated by Metroline).

Mostly recently, in 2013, it became the first route to fully implement the curvaceous new ‘Routemasters’ (while they’ve commonly been called that, the new buses are actually just called the ‘new bus for London’).

PICTURE: One of the new buses on the route in 2014 (Aubrey Morandarte (licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0))

LondonLife – Flying over the Thames by night…

Sailing high over the River Thames between North Greenwich in the river’s southern bank and the Royal Docks on the river’s northern bank is the cable car formally known as the Emirates Air Line. Opened in late June and running every day, the cable car – the UK’s first in an urban area – is operated by Transport for London and links into the Underground and Docklands Light Rail network. Travelling at about 90 metres above the ground along a course of more than half a mile, passengers can take in the City, Docklands, Greenwich and as far eastward down the river as the Thames Barrier. This image, which shows the 02 Arena in the background, was taken just after the Closing Ceremony of the Olympic Games in August. For more, see © Transport for London

Around London…

London’s bicycle hire scheme is up and running. The scheme was launched at the end of July and boasts 5,000 bikes which can be found at 315 docking stations. More than 21,000 people signed up in the first weeks and some of the early popular hire sites included Soho Square, Drury Lane in Covent Garden and Wardour Street. The bikes are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Members of the scheme must be 18 years old and you must be at least 14 years old to ride the bikes. A membership key costs £3 while the membership itself costs at £1 for a 24-hour membership, £5 for seven days and £45 for an annual membership. The first 30 minutes of any journey is then free (with fees applicable after that). As the bikes don’t come with a lock, it’s expected people will simply make a journey to another docking station before getting off. For more information on the Barclay’s Cycle Hire scheme, see Transport for London’s website at Meanwhile, in other transport news, the first air-conditioned Tube train is now in active service on the Metropolitan Line.

A cafe has been opened at Buckingham Palace, 173 years after Queen Victoria first moved in following her accession to the throne. Located on the West Terrace overlooking the lawn and lake, the Garden Café is open during visiting hours. The Palace’s State Rooms, meanwhile, are open to the public until 1st October. The palace this year hosts The Queen’s Year exhibition which features displays of ceremonial robes, gifts, uniforms, dresses and jewellery, as well as archive photography and film in an illustration of the monarch’s work throughout the year at everything from the State Opening of Parliament to the Garter Day ceremony at Windsor Castle and investitures, garden parties and State Visits. Entry to the State Rooms – which comprise just 19 of the palace’s 775 rooms – is £17.00 an adult, £15.50 concessions, £9.75 for under 17s and under fives are free. Family tickets are £45 and combined tickets – including the Royal Mews and the Queen’s Gallery – are also available. For more on the special exhibition, see

The Tower of London was the most visited royal site in Britain last year, attracting 2.4 million tourists, according to a report from VisitBritain. The tourism agency found that while overseas tourists spent some £4.6 billion while in the UK last year, more than £500 million was spent on tourism associated with the Royal Family. The top 10 most visited sites included several royal attractions – Edinburgh Castle came in at number six with 1.2 million visitors, Windsor Castle at number seven with 987,000 and Buckingham Palace at number 11 with 402,000. Other top London sites included the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich (#2 – 2.4 million), the Victoria and Albert Museum in South Kensington (#3 – 2.3 million), St Paul’s Cathedral (#4 – 1.8 million), Westminster Abbey (#5 – 1.4 million) and Hampton Court Palace (#9 – 541,646).