What is Crossrail 2 and What is Its Current Status?

What is Crossrail 2 and What is Its Current Status?


With the launching of Crossrail, aka the Elizabeth Line this past summer, the discussion in London mass transit now turns to Crossrail 2.  You might be wondering what exactly this means and how is this any different from the new Elizabeth Line?  Well, the first Crossrail line was only one solution to London’s congested roads and Underground lines and Crossrail 2 is the next step towards alleviating the traffic.  To fully understand what this means, we’re going to explain a little more about exactly what Crossrail 2 is, go over its history, and illustrate the current status and potential future of the new line. 

Like Crossrail, Crossrail 2 is a hybrid commuter rail and public transit route that is going to use larger rail trains over the standard Underground stock while also forming a new line that runs from northeast to southwest London.  Using the larger Class 345 train stock, Crossrail 2 will be able to carry even more passengers north-to-south at greater speeds than the London Underground.  This ability to move a greater number of commuters faster through the city will help take pressure off other Transport for London services from the Tube to busses as well as decrease road traffic for drivers. 

Crossrail 2 has long been part of Greater London’s transportation plans.  It was first proposed in the 1970s as a commuter line to link Clapham Junction with Seven Sisters.  Throughout the 80s and 90s, the proposed route was safeguarded, but other projects including line extensions and DLR took precedence. During the mayorship of Boris Johnson, who remains a major proponent of the new line as Prime Minister, Crossrail 2 got its first big push as the updated route was safeguarded from future development.  In 2003, then-Transportation Secretary Alistair Darling asked the Cross London Rail Links Ltd to study the Crossrail proposals.  While a 2004 spending review didn’t provide any funding for the new scheme, Parliament passed a bill that provided the necessary support to secure the funding and begin construction in 2005. 

Actual construction on what became the Elizabeth Line then started in 2009 and took thirteen years to finish.  During this process, London First published its recommendations for Crossrail 2 in 2013 and National Rail supported the plans.  In 2015, Dr. Michéle Dix was appointed the managing director of Crossrail 2 having come from TfL’s planning department.  A bill was put forward in 2019 with the hopes that construction might finish in the early 2030s, but this is where progress on the new line started to go off the rails (figuratively speaking, of course).  While the bill remained in Parliament, the COVID-19 pandemic paused most infrastructure projects as stay-at-home orders racked the United Kingdom and public transport ground to a halt. 

The lack of usage during the pandemic dramatically hurt TfL’s revenues and emergency spending necessitated moving funds away from Crossrail 2.  This had the effect of shelving the progress of construction for the foreseeable future.  In 2022, Prime Minister Boris Johnson expressed his continued support for Crossrail 2 at the opening of the Elizabeth Line.  However, funding negotiations between the government and the Greater London Authority have had a breakdown, so it remains to be seen how this will affect projects such as Crossrail 2 going forward.  At this point, further work on Crossrail 2 remains stalled until Parliament and the Greater London Authority can come to an agreement about funding. 

In conclusion, while 10 Downing Street verbally supports continuing Crossrail 2, it will take actual support to get the next Crossrail line back in business, and it’s unclear when that will be. 

What is Crossrail 2 and What is Its Current Status?Londontopia – The Website for People Who Love London



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Ten American Cities with Direct Flights to London

Ten American Cities with Direct Flights to London


The City of London

Is there anything more annoying about air travel than a layover?  Okay, maybe bad food, crying babies, terrible in-flight movies, or that one other passenger that causes so much trouble they have to get duct taped to a seat.  But anyway, layovers can still be pretty annoying especially when you need to fly an incredibly long distance like, say, to London.  Fortunately for you, there are many cities in the United States that offer direct flights to London so you don’t have to worry about changing planes.  We’ve identified ten of these cities along with the airports and airlines that offer this great service.  This isn’t a complete list, so if we left some out you can share that with us in the comments.

New York City

New York City is kind of an obvious one since it has the shortest distance to travel and both are major cities in their respective countries.  From JFK Airport, American Airlines, British Airways, Delta, Virgin, and JetBlue all offer daily flights, while British Airways also offers flights from Newark along with United Airlines. 

Atlanta

Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is one of the major hubs in the United States, so it stands to reason that they also offer daily flights to London.  Naturally, being a Delta hub, that airline offers regular flights but you can also get there courtesy of UK air travel titans British Airways and Virgin. 

Raleigh-Durham

Recently, Raleigh-Durham’s RDU airport resumed offering direct flights to London courtesy of American Airlines.  American Airlines only offers one flight per day, but its perfect for residents of the Triangle who don’t want to have to worry about going through New York. 

Chicago

Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport offers flights to all points on the globe including London.  Three major airlines offer daily flights to the city including British Airways, American Airlines, and United Airlines.  Each of them offers multiple flights per day (though BA sometimes only has one, so check the schedule). 

Orlando

If you feel like jetting off from the land of Disney World and Universal to land that inspired Mary Poppins and Harry Potter, Orlando’s MCO airport offers a couple of options.  British Airways offers one daily flight while Virgin doubles that number. 

Portland

On the other side of the country, Portland’s PDX international airport offers a single daily flight from the city to London.  At PDX, you can hitch a ride courtesy of British Airways. 

Los Angeles

Another of America’s largest cities, it should be no surprise that LAX also has several direct flights to London.  Passengers’ options for airlines include American Airlines, British Airways, and Virgin for multiple daily flights, while United Airlines offers a single option each day. 

Boston

Interestingly, Boston’s Logan airport offers the most flights to London of any city in the United States.  From here, you can hop on a flight from JetBlue, Delta, Virgin, British Airways, American Airlines, or United Airlines.  JetBlue also offers a flight directly to Gatwick on occasion if you don’t want to arrive via Heathrow. 

Washington, DC

If you want to fly from one nation’s capital to the other, you can hitch a ride at Dulles International Airport in Washington, DC.  Like a majority of the airports on this list, they have about three airlines that offer daily flights to London including British Airways, Virgin, and American Airlines.  Unlike other airports on this list, United actually offers the most daily flights at 3, possibly owing to the fact that Dulles is one of United’s hubs. 

Las Vegas

If you’re feeling Lucky after you hit the Last Vegas casinos, you can take a flight directly from Sin City to London at Las Vegas International Airport.  Both British Airways and Virgin offer flights to the UK capital, but each only has one per day. 

Ten American Cities with Direct Flights to LondonLondontopia – The Website for People Who Love London



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Ten London Exhibitions to Look Forward to in 2023

Ten London Exhibitions to Look Forward to in 2023


When you visit London’s museums, of which there are more than a few, you may be at a loss for what to see.  Sure, there are plenty of paintings, artifacts, sculptures, and whatnot that are on display throughout the year, but what if you want to see something different?  Fortunately, every London museum, from the British Museum to the Museum of London Docklands, has special exhibits that run for a limited time during the year.  We’re going to share with you ten exhibitions that we think you should catch during 2023, and if there are any you’re excited about, you can share them with us in the comments.

War Games – Imperial War Museum

Video games such as Call of Duty or Medal of Honor have become popular with gamers all over the world, but have you ever thought how real combat affects the games or how they can be used to train soldiers?  This exhibit at the Imperial War Museum covers nearly forty years of combat-style video games with conflicts ranging from WWI to the modern day with artifacts, industry expert testimonials, and interactive exhibits.  The exhibition began on September 20, 2022, and runs through May 28, 2023.

Nalini Malani:  My Reality is Different – The National Gallery

If you’ve visited the National Gallery in the past, you’re probably familiar with some of its most famous works already.  However, artist Nalini Malani is ready to literally change how you experience those pieces of art.  Malani is the National Gallery’s first Contemporary Art Fellow and has created 25 illustrations using an iPad that will challenge your perception of paintings by everyone from Caravaggio to Johann Zoffany.  The exhibit runs from March 2 to June 11, 2023.

The Rosettis – Tate Britain

If you think the counter-culture movement got its start in the 1960s, the Tate Britain has a lesson to teach you.  In the 19th Century, artists Dante Gabriel Rosetti, his wife Elizabeth Siddal, and his sister Christina Rossetti set out to change the norms of British society in art and literature.  Individually and together, the trio pushed the boundaries of love, sex, and lifestyles in Victorian Britain.  An exhibit dedicated to their works and careers is available to visit from April 6 to September 24, 2023. 

Saint Francis of Assisi – The National Gallery

The National Gallery’s Exhibit of the life and works of St. Francis of Assisi is the first of its kind in the United Kingdom.  As part of the exhibit, the National Gallery seeks to explain how his theologically radical ideas and commitment to the poor can have meaning in the modern day.  The museum presents a series of images of St. Francis and his impact on dialogue between religions impacted and can still influence how we get along today.  The exhibit runs from May 6 to July 30, 2023.

The Offbeat Sari – Design Museum

The sari has been a part of traditional Indian attire for centuries and became part of British culture along with the many Indian and Afghan immigrants who came to the UK in the 20th Century.  Modern styles and fashion have influenced how this garment has developed in the present day, and the Design Museum will show both the sari’s complex meanings and what designs have to say about it today.  The exhibit runs from May 19 to September 17, 2023. 

Summer Exhibition – Royal Academy

Not all art exhibits in the city take place in a traditional museum—or even feature professional artists who’ve been around for decades (if not centuries).  The Summer Exhibition is a one-of-a-kind art exhibition that has an open submission policy, meaning that everyone from the most seasoned artists to amateur doodlers can enter.  What’s more, the Royal Academy has hosted the Summer Exhibition for 255 years—uninterrupted—since 1769.  This year’s exhibition runs from June 12 to August 20, 2023 and since much of the art is up for sale, you might be able to take a piece home.

DIVA – Victoria & Albert Museum

In an era before movie stars and platinum albums, opera singers were the celebrities of the day.  DIVA at the V&A is an exhibit celebrating the fame achieved by many of the Victorian era’s most well-known opera singers.  Through costumes, music, art, photographs, and more artifacts of the period, the V&A will take visitors on a journey to explain exactly what it meant to be a Victorian diva.  The exhibit runs from June 24, 2023 to April 7, 2024. 

Take One Picture – National Gallery

Take One Picture at the National Gallery is yet another exhibit that proves you don’t have to be a famous artist to get your works displayed in a major museum.  This exhibition features the artwork of children from across the United Kingdom.  It shows off the talent of these young artists and highlights the importance of arts education in schools.  The National Gallery hosts the exhibit from July 13 to October 15, 2023.

Tree Houses at Kew – Kew Gardens

Many of us had tree houses growing up, but nothing like what will be displayed at Kew Gardens during Summer 2023.  This joint venture between Kew Gardens and the Museum of Architecture will display several dazzling tree house designs over the gardens’ 320 acres.  Part of the exhibit will feature a competition between tree house designs, so it’s likely that any visitors will see some very unique perspectives on what a tree house is and what it can be.

Wildlife Photographer of the Year 59th Annual Exhibition – The Natural History Museum

Descend into nature with this annual exhibit held at the Natural History Museum from October 13, 2023 into 2024.  Lovers of wildlife from mammals to mollusks, will want to gawk at the hundreds of wildlife photos that enter the competition and engage more deeply in how our actions affect these wondrous creatures. 

Ten London Exhibitions to Look Forward to in 2023Londontopia – The Website for People Who Love London



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The Museum of London Has Closed, Long Live the London Museum

The Museum of London Has Closed, Long Live the London Museum


In a city with no shortage of great history museums, the Museum of London is one that is dedicated to the city itself and its growth from a small settlement in pre-Roman times to the megalopolis world capital it is today.  The museum began in 1976 as a merger of the collections belonging to the Guildhall Museum and the London Museum.  Once located near the Barbican estate at 150 London Wall, the museum closed on December 4, 2022 to begin its move to West Smithfield near Smithfield Market. 

As part of its temporary closing before the move, the Museum of London held a spectacular going-out bash.  For the period of December 3 to 4, the museum remained open for twenty-four hours straight.  Over 13,000 people visited the museum during this time, giving it one of its busiest weekends in its forty-five-year history. It was during this weekend that the museum decided to go out with a bang by celebrating homegrown London artists and influential London music, with everything from EDM to punk getting playtime during this mini-festival.  It’s almost appropriate, given that the likeliest proposed use is for the London Symphony Orchestra to take over the space as its permanent home. 

While the new museum building won’t be opening until 2026, the Museum of London brand is already going through changes.  The Museum of London Docklands opened in 2003 to observe the history of the London Port, including its influence on turning the United Kingdom into a world power and its association with the terrible legacy of the slave trade.  This part of the museum is already rebranding to the London Museum Docklands and will begin operating as such in January 2023. 

In some ways, the rebranding of the Museum of London to the London Museum is like a return to its past. The original London Museum opened in 1912 and operated out of Kensington Palace and then Lancaster House until the building’s damage from the London Blitz meant a move back to Kensington until its eventual merger with the Guildhall Museum.  The change in name is almost poetic for a museum that focuses so much on the past even as it slots towards its future.

And speaking of that future, we turn our attention now to the museum’s new home and its plans inside the walls of its Smithfields location.  The London Museum will open in what is currently Smithfields Market, an 800-year-old facility that has operated as a meat market and will itself be relocating to Dagenham.  With a team of architects, the London Museum will revamp the inside of the building to house new galleries for its collections while retaining its Grade II listed Victorian exterior.  These changes include a gallery dedicated to items documenting the COVID-19 pandemic, exhibits designed to teach and entertain younger children, and viewing windows that show the nearby Thameslink trains running past.  The museum also plans to have a gallery about the city’s history with protests and will include the “Trump Baby” balloon floating over other artifacts of free speech.  Its ground floor, meanwhile, will retain much of its original Victorian market architecture and be utilized as a lobby and event space.

Until the new museum opens in roughly three years, Londoners will simply need to get by with other museums in the city, though of course, the London Museum Docklands will remain open.  When the London Museum does open, you can expect a bash on part with its closing, one curated by Londoners to celebrate the city’s long history and its culture.  The museum plans to host a large festival beginning in 2025 that will allow a limited access to the Smithfields location to better acquaint Londoners with their museum’s new home. 

The Museum of London Has Closed, Long Live the London MuseumLondontopia – The Website for People Who Love London



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