Heathrow Airport has had a subway link for decades. When the Elizabeth line’s next phase is opened in the fall, passengers will be able to travel from Heathrow to the banks at Canary Wharf in East London in 40 minutes; that is a prime selling point for a city desperate to hold on to its status as financial mecca after Brexit. All told, the line has 10 entirely new stations, 42 miles of tunnels and crosses under the Thames three times.

“We’re jealous, it’s fair to say,” said Danny Pearlstein, the policy director for Riders Alliance, a transportation advocacy group in New York. “Imagining a new, full-length underground line here is not something anyone is doing. The Second Avenue subway, which people have been talking about for 100 years, has three stations.”

To be fair, Transport for London is not without its problems. It has shelved plans to build a north-south counterpart to the Elizabeth line, not to mention an extension to the Bakerloo tube line, because of a lack of funding. Still reeling from a near-total loss of riders during pandemic lockdowns, the system faces many of the same financial woes as New York’s subway.

Though ridership has recovered from a nadir of 5 percent, it is still at only 70 percent of prepandemic levels. Transport for London is also heavily dependent on ticket fares to cover its costs, more so than the New York subway, which gets state subsidies, as well as funds from bridge and tunnel tolls.

“My other obsession is sorting out the finances,” Mr. Byford said. “One way is to wean us away from dependence on fares.”

He is somewhat vague about how to do that, and it is clear that Transport for London will depend on additional government handouts to get back on sound financial footing. That is why the opening of the Elizabeth line is so important to London: It makes a powerful case for public transportation at a time when people are questioning how many workers will ever return to their offices.

Mr. Byford lays out the case with the practiced cadence of a stump speech. The new line will increase the capacity of the system by 10 percent. Its spacious coaches are well suited to a world in which people are used to social distancing. It will revitalize economically blighted towns east of the city, while making central London accessible to people who live in far-flung towns to the east and west.

While Mr. Byford does not expect ridership ever to return completely, he thinks 90 percent is attainable. If office buildings remain underpopulated, London could develop like Paris, with more residential neighborhoods downtown. (The Elizabeth line bears a distinct resemblance to the high-speed RER system in Paris.) The line, he says, is an insurance policy against the “siren voices of doom” about Brexit.

At times, Mr. Byford slips perilously close to a real estate agent’s patter. “These super-high-tech stations simply ooze quality,” he said. But emerging from Liverpool Street, with its spectacular, rippling, pinstriped ceiling, it is hard to argue with his basic assertion: “This is a game changer.”

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British Airways cancels all short-haul flights from London’s Heathrow until midday, article with image

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British Airways tail fins are pictured at Heathrow Airport in London, Britain, May 17, 2021. REUTERS/John Sibley/File Photo

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LONDON, Feb 26 (Reuters) – British Airways (BA) said it would cancel all short-haul flights from London’s Heathrow airport until midday on Saturday as it deals with an IT failure.

The airline has said the problem, which came to light on Friday and affected its website, app, and airport operations, was not caused by a cyber attack but was a hardware issue.

BA has been caught up in tit-for-tat bans by Russia and Britain that have stopped their respective national carriers from using each other’s airspace.

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“We are extremely sorry that due to the continuing technical issues we are facing we have regrettably had to cancel all short-haul flights from Heathrow today until midday,” the airline said in a statement.

“Our long-haul services at Heathrow and all flights at Gatwick and London City Airport are due to operate as planned, but customers may experience some delays. Our website ba.com is working and customers can check-in online and at the airport,” the airline said.

It advised passengers to check on its website for the latest information before travelling to the airport as more disruption was expected.

BA, owned by IAG (ICAG.L), was hit by a major computer system failure in 2017 that stranded 75,000 passengers over a holiday weekend, sparking a public relations disaster and pledges from the carrier that it would do better in future.

The company said customers would be offered a full refund for cancelled services or could rebook at a later date for free.

“We know we have let our customers down and we will do everything we can to make this up to them – but for now our focus is on getting as many customers and flights away as we can.”

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Reporting by Michael Holden Editing by Catherine Evans and Mark Potter

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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