The new Elizabeth Line will increase rail capacity by 10% in central London. It is very difficult not to be in awe of the engineering achievement as they whisk you from Paddington to Liverpool Street in 12 minutes. The stations are huge and glistening. The trains clean, bright and fast.
Article by Tom Edwards BBC Transport correspondent, London
I remember when coming down in the Crossrail tunnels involved helmets, steel boots, a safety briefing and you had to carry your own breathing apparatus in case there was a gas leak.
It used to be a building site underground - dusty and noisy and full of miners - as the huge boring machines inched their way through the London clay.
Well, today it is something very, very different - it is a brand new railway, to be known as the Elizabeth line, and it is very close to opening.
I went on one of the new trains now being tested below London.
It is very difficult not to be in awe of the engineering achievement as they whisk you from Paddington to Liverpool Street in 12 minutes.
The stations are huge and glistening. The trains clean, bright and fast. Eventually they'll run every few minutes.
Of course we can't downplay the problems this scheme has had and the impact it has had on Londoners.
It is three-and-a-half years late, and is billions over budget.
The early mantra of "on time and on budget" disappeared into an embarrassing farce as one management team was replaced by another.
I've spoken to countless businesses who have suffered due to the delays and the broken promises. The stress of the Crossrail delays has taken businesses to the brink.
And it will be a while before everything is open - Bond Street station is still behind schedule.
But now it seems the end is in sight and most of it will open in the next few months.
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Footnote by Michael Julien. Having been responsible for raising the first 250 million pounds of equity and 5 billion pounds of bank debt for the Channel Tunnel in 1986 which opened in 1994, I am fully aware that the costs subsequently escalated on what was a unique project. However, where are the complaints now that it has been built and is operational? None!! The same will be true of Crossrail in the years to come.
The new Elizabeth Line will increase rail capacity by 10% in central London