Following up on our previous blog where we explored the benefits of Crossrail opening, the Colliers London Offices team decided we should get a first-hand experience of the Elizabeth Line to find out exactly how good it really is.
We wanted to get an idea of how Crossrail would impact occupiers travelling across London, but also how the new line would help us in our day-to-day activities as real estate professionals. Under the diligent leadership of Charlotte Ashton, a route was devised from our office at 50 George Street to Canary Wharf via Paddington, taking in some of our instructions along the way.
The first stop on our journey was to rendezvous at the entrance to Paddington’s Crossrail station, immediately adjacent to YardNine’s Fifty Paddington, one of our leasing instructions. Seeing how close the building was to the entrance to the Elizabeth Line was a reminder of the long-term planning that has been undertaken by developers next to these new transport hubs.
As we descended the escalator into the station, we were amazed to see the length of the platform, as well as how striking the design and architecture were, building upon Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s original iconic station design.
Within a few minutes, an almost silent train pulled into the platform and the doors opened. As we stepped onto the train, I was taken aback by how wide the carriages were, as well as how well the air conditioning worked on a day where temperatures were sitting in the mid-to-low twenties. As we sat down, we prepared a stopwatch to track our journey time to our first destination, Canary Wharf.
That’s how quickly we were whisked through central London all the way to Crossrail Place in Canary Wharf. Along the way we caught a brief glimpse of Bond Street station, which will hopefully open later in the year. That’s something else to look forward to and will be the closest stop on the line to our West End office. We couldn’t believe how short the journey between Tottenham Court Road and Farringdon was – a journey that would have taken nearly 20 minutes was reduced to just three!
Transport between the West End and Canary Wharf becoming this accessible will make it so much easier for people during a working day, with meetings across the city taking much less time out of your day. The Elizabeth Line also opens up locations for post-work socialising and weekend activities, with Canary Wharf offering an amazing variety of bars and restaurants. After a quick team drink we headed back to the Crossrail station ready for the next stop on our tour.
The speed at which we arrived in Whitechapel caught the team by surprise, and we were quickly walking out through the refurbished original entrance onto Whitechapel High Street. A short walk through this bustling part of east London and the team were standing opposite Aldgate East station looking at The Rowe, Frasers Property’s 161,000 sq ft redevelopment which will be ready in September 2022.
Until now, this location has often been seen as peripheral because of the limited number of transport options. With the Elizabeth Line opening up just down the road, location becomes much less of a barrier for occupiers considering Whitechapel as an office destination, whilst also saving us valuable time conducting viewings! Next we made the short journey into the City.
This was the final stop on our afternoon tour across some of the Elizabeth Line route and was an opportunity for some of the team to see Broadgate Circle back and buzzing post-COVID. Considering this was a warm Friday afternoon, it was hardly surprising to see the bars and restaurants at Broadgate Circle full of workers keen to get their weekends started.
This was also an opportunity for the team to appreciate another of our leasing instructions at 5 Broadgate, where we have 100,000 sq ft available. In fact, not long ago, Colliers also advised CK Asset Holdings on the sale of the building for £1.21 billion, underlining the demand from investors for quality assets in best-in-class locations with ESG credentials. The opening of the Elizabeth Line will only add to the depth of transport options in this part of the Square Mile.
And so, our maiden voyage as a team on the Elizabeth Line was at an end, having travelled the length of the newly opened central section and having visited three client instructions. So, what did we all think?
We had perhaps been talking about the potential of Crossrail for so long that we had stopped imagining what it would actually be like when it opened. As soon as the doors closed when we started our journey, we knew this was a gamechanger for London, and this view was cemented as we alighted at each station we visited. Transport infrastructure of this scale and quality makes London “smaller” and will help the city in its recovery from the pandemic and beyond.
Charlotte Ashton, director in the London Offices team summed it up well: “One of the biggest positives for London is how much quicker Crossrail will make travelling around London during the day for meetings and social events. Some of the submarkets on the Elizabeth Line suddenly feel that bit closer and more easily accessible from the core West End, meaning they are more desirable to footloose occupiers.”
We are looking forward to many more trips along the Elizabeth Line, and can’t wait for Bond Street station to be phased in.