The first section of the Elizabeth line in London has been connected to mobile internet infrastructure, meaning customers travelling between Paddington and Liverpool Street can use the internet even when in tunnelled sections. 

The five-mile section under central London is the first part of the line to be connected to the network, but followed the successful installation of routers in all the line’s stations earlier in 2024. 

Originally known as Crossrail, the link between Shenfield to the east of the English capital and Reading to its west, is affectionately known as the “Lizzie line” after the late Queen. 

The next section to be connected will be towards Whitechapel, but Transport for London (TfL) said the “whole line will have mobile coverage by the end of summer”. 

TfL said the installations were completed by Boldyn Networks, the service provider’s mobile connectivity partner. Boldyn has been awarded a 20-year contract to deliver high-speed 5G connections across the network by installing “a fibre backbone”. 

Around 500 staff are working overnight, when the line does not operate, to install approximately 2,000 kilometres of cables across all TfL tunnels. 

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The Elizabeth line is not the only line on London’s network to receive a connectivity boost – TfL and Boldyn Networks are working to connect the entire network, so customers can stay online throughout their entire journey. 

The hardware will allow every customer to connect because the partners have teamed up with each of the four mobile internet providers in the UK market: Three UK, EE, Vodafone, and Virgin Media O2 (VMO2). 

London’s Transport Commissioner Andy Lord said the added connectivity will allow Londoners and tourists alike to “make the most of the city.” 

It’s wonderful to see our programme to introduce high-speed mobile coverage now benefitting customers on the Elizabeth line, the newest part of London’s historic underground network of stations and tunnels.

The current live sections of connected underground rail. Credit: TfL

“This key step in bringing better connectivity to London’s underground stations and tunnels will allow more people travelling around the capital to keep in touch, share photos and make the most of the city, especially as we start to enjoy the summer.”

Going live 

The east-west line is the jewel in TfL’s crown, but its other routes are expected to follow on its journey to full connectivity before the northern hemisphere summer is over. 

“[F]urther sections of the Northern line, Bakerloo line, Piccadilly line and Victoria line are anticipated to go live in the coming month,” TfL said. 

The full integration of London’s rail network will not only benefit customers but will facilitate the Emergency Services Network (ESN) when it comes online. 

The ESN “will give first responders immediate access to life-saving data, images and information in live situations and emergencies” on the Underground and other TfL rail assets. 

Spokesperson for TfL’s Youth Panel Amir Dawoodbhai said the internet access would “enhance… safety” for younger travellers, and provide easy access to help for young people with less experience on the Tube and rail networks. 

“Young Londoners are already some of the most geographically mobile in the country thanks to extensive public transport here in the capital. Mobile coverage on the Elizabeth line and the Tube is a welcome addition to this offering. It enhances perceptions of safety, accessibility and general user-friendliness as young people start to experience London independently for the first time, helping to guide them through what can sometimes feel like a complex transport system,” he said.