The £14.8bn Crossrail programme is Europe’s biggest infrastructure project. Construction began in 2009 at Canary Wharf, and the programme is now 80% complete and is on time and budget. The new lines and stations will become the Elizabeth Line, running from Reading and Heathrow in the west, through new tunnels under central London to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east.
Tunnelling finished in 2015 and the project is now focused on the complex job of fitting out the stations and tunnels with the equipment and systems needed to operate the railway. This includes the installation of track, ventilation, power, signalling, communications and overhead line equipment.
There will be 40 Elizabeth line stations including 10 new stations at Paddington, Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road, Farringdon, Liverpool Street, Whitechapel, Canary Wharf, Custom House, Woolwich and Abbey Wood.
Services through central London are due to start in December 2018. The railway will be fully integrated with Transport for London’s existing transport network and will reduce journey times, increase central London’s rail capacity by 10% and bring an extra 1.5 million people to within 45 minutes of the capital.
The new Elizabeth line station at Paddington is a concrete box structure over 200m long built directly to the south of Brunel’s original 1853 station.
The box, which reaches 20m below street level, is structurally complete and the platforms and ticket hall are in place. 15 escalators are being installed, and the steelwork for the single central lift is complete, ready for the mechanism and glazing to be installed.
Many of the architectural features, including brick panels that line the walls and the bronze panels that clad the elliptical columns, are in place.
In the spring of 2017 work will begin on the striking glass and steel canopy. At 8m above street level, the canopy covers a unique 90m clear opening that lets natural light and air flood down to the ticket hall and platforms. A bespoke work of art will be printed on the glass panels of the 120m-long canopy that will create a picture of the sky.
In 2017 the new station at the west end of Oxford Street will rise from ground level as work on the two street level ticket halls – the west on Davies Street and the east on Hanover Square – nears completion.
Below ground, the station’s 255m-long platforms are structurally complete, and the architectural cladding, which will appear in all the new underground Elizabeth line stations, is being installed. The ticket halls and back-of-house rooms, which sink to depths of 28m, are in place and being filled with numerous mechanical and electrical components needed to operate the station.
At each end of the station, two tall ventilation shafts have been built, and the mechanical systems to control the air flow are now being manoeuvred piece by piece into the station and fitted into position.
Over the past six months Tottenham Court Road station, in the heart of the West End, has transformed into what looks like a nearly complete station.
At the east end, in the ticket hall that will be integrated with the existing London Underground station, the escalator connecting the two is in place. Below ground, the platforms are complete and the architectural cladding is being installed – at the western end on Dean Street, the ticket hall is being clad in black reconstituted stone.
The large drum light fittings, designed to reflect the nearby theatres of Soho, are in place and work on the escalator, the longest on the Elizabeth line at 47m, will begin in February.
When complete, the station at the centre of the Elizabeth line will become a link between Thameslink, London Underground and the Elizabeth line services.
The longest platforms on the route, stretched to reach ticket halls built either side of the historic Smithfield meat market, are complete and being clad in the architectural wall panels.
The roof of the western ticket hall, designed with diamond-shaped segments to reflect the heritage of the local Hatton Garden diamond district, has just been completed.
The soffit of the eastern ticket hall has been constructed, and resonates with the nearby Barbican Centre, while the rest of the building structure is undergoing fit-out with the mechanical and electrical components. In late 2017 installation of a bespoke incline lift, designed to avoid the complex underground structures of the area, will begin.
At Liverpool Street, nestled at the entrance to the City of London, Crossrail has made the most of what little space is available to build a massive piece of infrastructure.
The platforms that connect the two ticket halls, stretching from Moorgate in the west to Broadgate in the east, are now complete.
At the eastern end, the huge Moorgate shaft is rapidly rising from 30m below ground to street level as the concrete floors are poured and back-of-house mechanical rooms constructed.
At the western end, the structure of the Broadgate ticket hall is nearing completion. The architectural roof, the pre-cast segments of which resemble the pinstripes of workers in the City, has been installed.
Meanwhile, the archaeology programme that unearthed more than 3,000 skeletons from Roman times and the 17th Century burial ground is complete and the findings will be put on display together for the first time in a new exhibition at the Museum of London Docklands in February.
The track and other railway systems will be installed later in the year and the fit-out of the platform tunnels and ticket halls will continue until 2018.
Whitechapel station is a complex interchange being built between the Hammersmith & City and District lines and London Overground.
30m below ground, more than 600m of twin platform tunnels and more than 350m of cross passages for the new station have been constructed.
Access to all services will be from a spacious new ticket hall sitting on a bridge above the Victorian railway infrastructure, with entry via the refurbished original entrance on Whitechapel High Street. The new station concourse structure is largely complete, with glazing and cladding underway and the first panels arriving early this year.
To improve connectivity to the surrounding area a new second entrance is provided at the northern end of the station. Demolition works of the old Whitechapel Tube station interior structure is complete with some of the original elements donated to the Epping Ongar heritage railway.
Construction of the new Canary Wharf station was completed in September 2015 and the track and other railway systems are currently being installed.
The 256m-long station box is surrounded by the water of West India Quay dock, and sits directly below five levels of mixed-use development that is now open to the public.
The station ticket hall is accessed via eight long-rise escalators from the promenade level entrances at either end of the building. On top of the station, a 310m-long timber glulam roof, sheltering a striking roof-top garden, lets in light and rain for natural irrigation.
Translucent air-filled pillows allow direct views in and out of the building and sustainably sourced timber beams provide a warm, natural counterpoint to the glass and steel towers of Canary Wharf.
The structure of the new 27m-long box station at Woolwich, which is below a 3,750 housing and commercial development, is now finished.
Underground, the platforms have been installed and the track laid. Above ground, work is about to begin on the roof of the new ticket hall, and in early 2017, large 17m structural beams that span the space will be installed.
The brickwork of the station exterior, which is designed to respect the heritage of the nearby Grade I and II listed buildings, will begin in the spring.
The pre-cast jigsaw-like structure of the new station at Custom House, which took a day over a year to assemble, was completed in 2015. In May 2016 the new footbridge opened – the first piece of Crossrail infrastructure brought into use for the public.
In the summer of 2016 new mayor of London Sadiq Khan visited the station to see the first section of completed track
on the route, and throughout 2017 work will continue on the fit-out of the station with the mechanical and electrical components, and the enhancement of the urban realm, including a landscaped area with planting, cycle parking, wayfinding and improved lighting.
At Abbey Wood, a new station is being built to replace the former structure that was too small to accommodate both the existing Southeastern services as well as the two new Elizabeth line tracks.
From above, the station is shaped like a manta ray, its zinc-surfaced “wings” extending into canopies sheltering impressively-scaled staircases either side. Lifts emerge as architectural features flanking the station forecourt.
The new station building makes great use of wood: framed inside with laminated larch beams, and clad on its flanks with a sustainable and durable hardwood, above a warm brick base. Glazed canopies run back along the platforms.
The two platforms for Southeastern services are now complete, providing passengers with new information screens, seating and canopies. The new station building is quickly taking shape, with the elegant new timber roof in place.
Work to fit out the station and construct the Elizabeth line platforms will continue and is scheduled for completion by the end of 2017.