ExCeL London CEO unfazed about further delays to Crossrail

Crossrail, officially known as the Elizabeth Line, will not be opened until 2021, according to a senior source associated with the project.

The £15.4 billion project, which is set to run between Reading and Shenfield in Essex, making 41 stops along the route, was due to open in December 2018. The further delays are said to have been caused by difficulties in testing the trains and signalling, known as dynamic testing, and the incompletion of all the stations that will service the line.

The further delays impact the accessibility to several event venues across London which are situated directly on the Elizabeth Line, including ExCeL London, one of London’s premium conference centres.

ExCeL London already has a reputation for being difficult to get to as Brand Licensing Europe brand director, Anna Knight recalled when the annual event moved from Olympia London to ExCeL London for its upcoming 2019 show.

“When you tell people we are moving to east London, it is unfamiliar. People don’t know the area beyond ExCeL such as Stratford or the O2. It’s the perception of being difficult to get to.

“Some were absolutely on board from the outset and they understood the rationale. But there was a battle against the perception about the location.”

Once completed, Crossrail will massively reduce the journey time from central London to the venue, from an average of 40 minutes to less than 20 minutes for passengers travelling from Bond Street. The direct line will also eliminate the need to make multiple changes.

However, ExCeL London CEO Jeremy Rees told M&IT that while the venue was looking forward to the Elizabeth Line being opened, the delays do not change ExCeL London’s strategy or plans for future development and investment.

ExCeL London

ExCeL London

“ExCeL is already a very well connected venue, located in the best-connected city in the world.

“Our business continues to grow exponentially, with over 400 events hosted annually. In 2019, we’ve hosted world-class exhibitions including Bett and ICE Totally Gaming and are preparing to welcome the world’s leading financial services event, Sibos.

“Every year, we host over four million people, from every corner of the globe, all of whom are able to reach us with ease using the current transport infrastructure.”

While there are currently multiple public transport options connecting central London to ExCeL London, including the Docklands Light Railway, London Overground and the Jubilee Line, on average these routes take up to 40 minutes.

Alternatively, those travelling to events at ExCeL London from south of the River Thames can use the Emirates Air Line cable car which connects the O2 arena and North Greenwich to a station a few minutes’ walk from the venue.

Other routes include the Thames Clipper fleet services docks close to ExCeL London. However, a trip from Embankment to ExCel London’s closest dock, North Greenwich, will take an hour and result in an additional journey on the Emirates Air Line to get across to ExCeL London.