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Its the big moment you have all been waiting for. The opening of Crossrail at Paddington, the first (or the last) of the new underground stations between here and Woolwich! Actually its a case of hold your horses because its not a complete opening but merely a partial opening of the new station area. Its somewhat like that at Moorgate where just a small part of that new station is too utilised. This is just a small bit of the intermediate level area at Paddington station with one of the entrances into the station also open (or reopened as it has been closed for a long time due to the Crossrail works. This is the Horse Arch (see I told you to hold your horses!)

This archway is sited adjacent to Sainsburys in the station itself and was once one of two concourses linking to the former taxi road area on the west side of the station. Now it of course links to the Crossrail level, and if one goes out via this entrance they can see the entire Crossrail level stretching northwards. Its tantalising because its just a small taster of what is to come when the complete works finally opens, possibly next year.

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The Horse Arch – how it looked before Crossrail began. Source: Google Streets

The Horse Arch entrance has been open just a few days the first reports on social media of it were made on the 15th July.

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How the Horse Arch looked when it was closed for Crossrail. Source: Google Streets

The taxi rank that was once sited on the west side of the station is now on the east side of the station and this was in fact part of the first stage of the Crossrail works to be fully completed (which also includes the new Circle/Hammersmith & City Line station next to the canal at Paddington Basin.)

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Zoom of the closed section of the Horse Arch. Source: Google Streets

The other archway – the Clock Arch in the centre of the station adjacent to platform one will eventually open and be the main access to the Elizabeth Line – as well as the stairs and lifts down from Eastbourne Terrace itself.

The Horse Arch will form the main route from the Lawn Area or the main line station’s information and ticket facilities, as well as being the main route from the District and Circle Lines’ station via the main ticket hall area underneath The Lawn. As a matter of act people will have a choice of using either the Horse Arch or the Clock Arch to reach the Elizabeth Line. I suspect railway enthusiasts will more often than not prefer the latter!

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Previous plans included a direct connection from the District/Circle Line station in Praed Street to the Elizabeth Line station. This would have entailed a passageway underneath Praed Street before tuning north towards the new station area. It was dropped on grounds of cost early in the Crossrail programme.

There will still be a direct connection (with lifts) from the District and Circle via the new Bakerloo entrance – however that wont be a for a few more years. The only problem with that is it will be a rather indirect route. In most cases the Horse Arch or the Clock Arch routes will offer the best option. The only problem with the decision not to build a direct access subway means its just the eastbound District/Circle Line services that will have level interchange access (via lifts) to either the Bakerloo or the Elizabeth Line. The westbound lines will still be restricted because of the long flights of steps up to the ticket hall and street level.

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The Horse Arch a few days after opening.

The Horse Arch is associated with the old days of the station because this was where horse drawn taxi cabs would arrive and set down their passengers.

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At the Horse Arch entrance looking on to the Crossrail/Elizabeth Line area.

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Looking from the Horse Arch towards the Elizabeth Line site. The pavement and street furniture here is actually part of the Elizabeth Line development – and mirrors somewhat the northern end of the site – so far unopened.

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The Horse Arch is very near to the southern entrance to the Elizabeth Line and this is the entrance passengers will use from Praed Street or the station’s Lawn area.

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Crop showing the stairs at left and the main Elizabeth Line entrance – so far still unsigned (no name nor a purple tube roundel as yet) compared to other stations on the route. Progress here is quite slow and somewhat reminiscent of Bond Street!

The staircase in the above image (at left) can also be seen in the artists impression below at extreme left with the southern Elizabeth Line entrance clearly depicted.

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The southern Elizabeth Line entrance is very near to the Horse Arch. Source: Ramboll

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General view of the ramp leading from Praed Street to the Horse Arch and the Elizabeth Line station. The huge ventilation building at the south end of the site is clearly visible. There’s another at the north end of the site.

Crossrail obviously still has loads to do before the rest of the site even finished! In many ways progress seems like that at Bond Street. Compared to the other Elizabeth Line stations Paddington will be unusual that it will also have two piazzas above the Elizabeth Line station complete with seating, trees and small landscaped areas – as well as the biggest group of surface buildings of any of the route’s stations. There will also be a interesting lighting scheme which should make the site very attractive at night. I haven’t seen any illustrations on that so far – except the one shown below.

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Early example of a lighting scheme for the Paddington Elizabeth Line site. The Horse Arch is at right. Clearly the completed development will differ from this. Source: Studio Fractal

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