Thanks to spotting a notification for a tour of several Crossrail stations as part of a get-parents-and-kids-into-construction day, I was able to visit a space deep beneath Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road, back in July, to look around the huge Crossrail station there which is rapidly taking shape, with Crossrail (aka the Elizabeth line) due to start through the centre of London in only a couple of years.
There is lots of activity on the site, as would be expected, and at times it was tricky for the tour to move around, but eventually we made it to level minus 4 – platform level, and were able to walk the length of the platforms, as well as an intermediate tunnel that runs between them, to get an appreciation of the scale of underground Crossrail stations, which are noticeable bigger than their regular tube equivalents.
One real surprise for me was to see the distinct curve on the eastbound platform. It’s the only underground one in the Crossrail network, and was necessitated by the tight nature of threading the stations and tunnel tubes through the area – at one point, less than a metre from the Northern Line platforms there. The curve will no doubt provide challenges for the station cladding, as well as the automatic platform-edge doors that will be on all the underground stations on Crossrail.
We also got a glimpse of the huge bank of escalators which will take people up and down from the station level. Pouring the huge slab of concrete to set not horizontally, but at the 30 degree angle of the escalators themselves, was another considerable engineering challenge.
Level -4 is not the lowest level, and we also got a quick look at Level -5, which runs underneath the platforms themselves and provides all the cabling and pipe infrastructure for the station and indeed the running lines themselves. No more cables running along the nice new tunnel tubes, or disfiguring the space age, Star Wars-like stations with their white acrylic panel sections and organic looking curves rather than corners.
It was also nice to see a glimpse of some rather pleasing looking concrete ceilings – they reminded me of the bold Euston Station ceiling that hardly anyone spots – sadly I suspect they will not appear “raw” in the finished station, but the green and orange glows of the worklights on them looked great.
(By the way, I’ve been into the station construction site before, in March 2015.)
All in, a great tour of one of the stations that will be a significant addition to London’s transport capability, and looking forward to seeing the finished product at the end of 2018.