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Another step (of sorts) has been achieved as part of the ongoing and much delayed Crossrail saga, and that is the visible presence of new Elizabeth Line roundels at the station. These should have been up nearly four years ago! The fact not one Crossrail station had any roundels in the summer of 2018 should have been warning enough there was trouble ahead. Anyway the last of these new signs were installed over the past few days and on Monday 12 April the new totem at the north end of the station could be seen fully unveiled. The areas are not yet open to the public however, although the Horse Arch route, opened in July 2020, is still an alternative into Paddington station.

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Eastbourne Terrace as seen a few days ago with the new Elizabeth Line/TfLRail/National Rail totem sign on the left surrounded by scaffolding.

As the above picture shows buses can now park in Eastbourne Terrace between duties once again much as they did before any Crossrail work had ever begun. The pavement too is open again. The road was restored to two way traffic in December 2020 whilst the east side pavement was reopened on the weekend of 30/31 January 2021. However a significant barrier remains between the useable part of the pavement and the actual Elizabeth Line station environs – no doubt its to stop those like me having a good look through the wire fencing and taking pictures! Ouch!

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The new Elizabeth Line/National Rail sign at Paddington Bishops Road side with scaffolding still around it.

Neither of the Elizabeth Line/National Rail totems are complete. To the uninitiated they do look complete but there’s sections that are missing on the sides. I have no idea if its merely a kink in the supply chain or what, however an enamel grey strip needs to be placed either side of the roundel section and these are missing. The fact the Praed Street totem still has this state of affairs at the time of writing this post does certainly indicate some sort of supply problem because its been in that state more than two months.

The totems are not complete anyway even if they have this grey strip placed on the sides. To all purposes and intents they ought to have a local street map and local places with walking distances indicated plus other information that might benefit the rail traveller or the tourist. Only a handful of Crossrail station sites have so far received completed totems, although some of these in fact have LUL roundels rather than Elizabeth Line ones, Whitechapel being one location. I think Paddington may well be one of the very few locations to have proper purple roundels on top of a totem, Liverpool Street is another (that was put up last summer – this one has ‘Elizabeth Line’ rather than Liverpool Street because the entrance in Broad Street Place is unique to the Elizabeth line) whilst one other location will no doubt be Woolwich (although last I knew of that was it should have Elizabeth Line rather than the ‘Woolwich’ erroneously put on the roundel’s crossbar) and the other should be Abbey Wood (which should follow the same convention as that used at Paddington that it has the station name rather than Elizabeth Line.) Of course as it stands, that for Abbey Wood hasn’t been put up, not yet anyway, even though it is shown in the station plans!

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Close up of the new purple roundel for Paddington station north side (Bishops Bridge Road.) It was unveiled on 12 April 2021.

The other Elizabeth Line stations by decree of their sharing facilities with LUL and National Rail or London Overground get a red roundel by default. In fact if one goes to the other side of Paddington station, this being the Hammersmith & City/Circle Line entrance by the canal, one will see there is indeed a totem with a red roundel rather than a purple roundel. The same goes for Whitechapel. I’m not sure why Crossrail/Elizabeth Line seems a bit confused as to what should be depicted on their totems. After all the debacle at Woolwich where it had a real ‘Underground’ sign put up in front of the station entrance does sort of show there is indeed some confusion as to what should be shown where. The simple reason for that is because in the early days all the totems were going to have red roundels. And that was before some contrived guy came along and decided Crossrail should be called the Elizabeth Line!

How the original scheme would have worked is a Crossrail station at that location would be marked by having a purple banner beneath the roundel itself. These banners would denote Crossrail, Underground, Overground, River Services, Taxis, Buses, whatever was needed but the top roundel would always be red at every Crossrail station. At least that was the plan. Later it was decided the red roundel should in fact be a grey roundel so there we are, Crossrail was going to have grey roundels at all of its stations and the other lines would still be denoted with line colour banners beneath that grey roundel, and at least there was still a consistency across the board. When it came to calling it the Elizabeth Line, that threw the spanner in the works in terms of what had until then been a quite concise ID scheme, and its why we have been seeing some funny sort of combinations including a red ‘Underground’ roundel on a totem post at Woolwich’s Crossrail station! By the way I wrote at length about Crossrail’s inconsistent signage nearly two years ago.

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The new south side totem at the junction with Praed Street. The District/Circle station’s roundel can just be seen in the background. This totem/roundel was the first to be unveiled during the third week of January 2021.

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The new Elizabeth Line totem at the corner of Eastbourne Terrace and Praed Street, Paddington.

There are further roundels within the new Crossrail concourse, and these can be seen from Eastbourne Terrace, which was the former west side taxi rank area. Previously the pavement on that side was out of bounds and fenced off, but it has recently been restored to public use – and despite a low slung plastic heavy duty barrier meant to stop people getting too close, one can at least still see these new roundels as well as the new directions (not complete at the time of writing) which says ‘National Rail’ or ‘Underground’ on one side and ‘Eastbourne Terrace’ on the other. New banks of train indicators can be seen at the new entrances (or rather refurbished, including the Clock Arch entrance) which lead to the main line station and will be open once the Elizabeth Line levels are finished.

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Large legible monolith sign (so far without any detail on it) on the topmost level (for Eastbourne Terrace.) The stainless steel post to the left is one of several throughout Paddington Crossrail/Elizabeth Line station and environs that has CCTV cameras.

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The currently unused Clock Arch entrance to Paddington station can be seen in the background whilst the new entrance to the Elizabeth Line ticket hall and platforms can be seen to the right, with another purple roundel evident.

It seems to me the other entrances to Paddington station off Eastbourne Terrace may be put into use sometime soon. The pedestrianised public realm areas off Eastbourne Terrace and the Departures Road level do not require the opening of any part of the Elizabeth Line station. The Clock Arch itself seems pretty well on the way to completion, and the surprise is the Paddington bear statue has been relocated to the centre of the arch from its previous location at the side.

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A somewhat different view showing the Clock Arch entrance (still with scaffolding) also the new train describer monitors, which passengers will be able to see when they emerge from the Elizabeth Line.

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Here one can see the new directions denoting National Rail and Underground. National Rail seems fine but ‘Underground’ is quite problematic as I shall detail in a moment…

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In this shot I took one can clearly see the LEDs that will illuminate the sign to be placed here. This arrangement reminds me somewhat of the system arrays used in LED televisions and computer monitors, even though technically its no sort of similar system really!

I’d be interested to see what these signs say on the other side when they are finished – because its not clear enough what ‘Underground’ refers to. Thats because Paddington will, by the time the Elizabeth Line opens, have at least six tube entrances, each leading to almost practically a different combination of tube lines! I think the signage will need to be made more clear if people are not going to be confused. The other problem is what exactly is it offering in terms of conviviality? Disabled people for example. People with heavy luggage? The issue here is it would be more convenient to access the Bakerloo by way of the station concourse and the new entrance that will be built on the east side of the main line station rather than using the Bakerloo Line link! The simple reason for that is its a much nicer route, but not only that it too involves the use of fewer lifts. It will also depend on the destinations one wants to reach and I think this is one to watch because there’s going to be some very interesting combinations in terms of travel options, including some where the tube is actually just as fast or faster, than Crossrail!

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The lift diagram for the Eastbourne Terrace to the Elizabeth and Bakerloo Lines. As can be seen the Bakerloo Line link is the deepest of the levels.

There’s also evidence of the new Bakerloo – Elizabeth Line Link. This can be seen in the form of the lift diagrams at the upper level just off Eastbourne Terrace and as expected the access to the Bakerloo Line is deeper than the new Elizabeth Line station itself. The lifts numbered in this particular section are 6 & 7, 8 & 9, and 12. This isn’t a mistake. the missing numbers are already in use or pending their use. Lift numbers 1 to 5 are allocated to those that have been in use within the main line station for a number of years now, this includes those on the main station’s footbridge, that down to the District/Circle and Bakerloo ticket hall, that to the taxi rank and also the pair which links the Grand Union Canal to the Hammersmith & City and Circle Lines. The missing lift numbers (10 & 11) no doubt will be those used for the new Bakerloo Line entrance which is currently under construction.

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I’m not sure but it seems the coloured strips on this enamel sign are made from stick-on paper labels judging from the Bakerloo one. If that is the case they wont last very long for the same sort of thing was attempted at Liverpool Street when brand new Elizabeth Line directional signage was placed throughout the station. After just a few weeks the entire lot had to be removed because of people peeling bits of these off – either as vandalism or just for the sheer fun of it.

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View looking north along the new Departures Road section from the Horse Arch with the other Elizabeth Line roundels visible. The roundel’s apparent speckled effect is due to materials and fencing being reflected.

Whilst the progress at Paddington is somewhat encouraging, its been very slow when one realises it’ll soon be a year since the first of the proper Crossrail entrances/exits from the station was opened (this is the Horse Arch which I wrote about) – and in the intervening period it seems not a lot has happened on the surface parts of the station. In fact there’s been further work that was necessary to put right. Some of the cloud artwork that forms a canopy to the station had to be replaced (its said this is due to cracks being discovered in some of these) and that entailed the use of a very tall crane and some road closures.

As it stands it does seem with the removal of the hoarding that lined Eastbourne Terrace for a good number of years, there has been more progress that had previously been apparent. Indeed if I go through my pictures stretching back a year or more at least, the progression of works is apparent, starting with the completion of the paving, further work on the station roof and the accessible lifts, the installation of the public realm areas’ lights, installation of the CCTV and so on. What it does in fact mean is all this should have been done by at least the summer of 2018 – had Crossrail gone ahead and opened in December 2018 as originally planned. At the current time it looks like being 2022 before we see any opening of the line!

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One of the roof panels from the top of the Crossrail station at Paddington that had to be replaced recently (March 20th) due to cracks. Source: Twitter

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