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The Queen at the unveiling of the Elizabeth Line on 23 February Getty

Crossrail is to be renamed the Elizabeth line in honour of the Queen when it opens in 2018. The new high-capacity rail link will run through London from Reading and Heathrow in the west across to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east.

The announcement by London Mayor Boris Johnson came as the Queen visited the under-construction Crossrail station at Bond Street today (23 February). Johnson said the £14.8bn ($20.8bn) line would "provide a lasting tribute to our longest-serving monarch".

The Queen, who celebrates her 90th birthday in April, became the first reigning monarch to travel on the London Underground when she opened the Victoria line in 1969. Government officials said it was a "fitting tribute" for her name to be added to the London rail line map.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: "Given Her Majesty the Queen's long association with UK transport, it is very fitting that this vital link across our capital will be named the Elizabeth line in her honour. This is an example of British engineering at its best and will transform the way people travel across London and beyond from 2018, bringing better and faster journeys, while boosting jobs and driving economic growth."

A fleet of brand new 200m-long trains will run on the Elizabeth line, each featuring nine walk-through carriages, air conditioning, CCTV and real-time travel information. It is expected to significantly increase the capital's rail capacity, carrying an estimated half-a-million passengers per day. The department for transport said it would bring £42bn to the UK economy.

Mike Brown MVO, London's Transport Commissioner, said: "This new railway is absolutely vital to meeting the needs of the capital's rapidly growing population. The Elizabeth line will transform the way people get across our city and will enable London to continue to succeed, contributing to the economic health of the entire country. In running this important new railway we will ensure that it serves as a fitting tribute to Her Majesty the Queen."

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.... And 47 years ago, almost to the day, the Queen launched the Victoria line on 7 March 1969 StringerAFP/Getty