Sunday, 26 July 2015

Going underground with Crossrail - 20th July 2015

Visit to Farringdon Crossrail

Farringdon Crossrail Site 26th November 2014

By special invitation to tour the development of the Crossrail hub at Farringdon was a wonderful surprise and I could not sleep the night before with the excitement and anticipation of this visit.

There were only six of us who were met by the Project Manager at the turnstile to the Charterhouse Entrance of the site. We had a stringent Health & Safety talk prior to donning our PPE, trousers, jackets, boots, hard hats, glasses and gloves, thankfully orange is my favourite colour!  Health & Safety and protection throughout the site for everyone is a super high priority, you are aware of this wherever you go. Warnings, signs, briefings at various levels as to what was going on, whistles blowing, watch our for red lights monitoring air quality control. This is not the kind of building site I played on when I was a kid!

For all this the vast hole created to get the Tunnel Boring Machines (TBM) in was now fast being covered over and filled in with structures to house escalators, lifts, plants, concourses, exits and entrances, service tunnels, all now taking shape, since the TBMs fell silent.

There were four on site, two are infilled with concrete, one with a time capsule, and both buried on site. One was named Ada after Ada Lovelace, under Charterhouse Square, and the other Phyllis (after Pearsall) under Lindsey Street. The two remaining Elisabeth and Victoria, are being dismantled by the same teams that put them together at the start of this mammoth tunnelling task in this section of Crossrail. Short film here made after our visit!,660078

Spraying concrete in the lower escalator shaft.

This is the beginning of the end for this site, an odd thing to say when completion is not due until 2018, but looking at the bigger picture, the major work is done and believe it or not, the idea whole idea of  Crossrail began circa 1945!

Farringdon site November 2014

Farringdon July 2015
The white tubes are acting as supports they will be removed

Shuttering going up for the concrete wall - the escaltor pit is behind it

The mesh screen in the background is concealing the Underground Line from Barbican

Above ground level with Long Lane in the distance

Up against the site off Long Lane.
They have moved out temporarily whilst building works going on!

Escaltor shaft in awkward place therefore dug out by diggers and then concrete
sprayed via a splended machine directed by man in 'spacesuit' 

Esclator shaft

Concrete buttresses to base of concrete walls.
The stabilisers across top of photo will be removed eventually.

One of the tunnels awiting waterproof lining and final layer of concrete finish

Going deeper, if the beacon goes red we have to leave fast as air quailty compromised.

Final level, as deep as we go.

Elizabeth the TBM her work is done. Looks epic and most spectacular in size and form.

Endless air tunnels, funnels and equipment

Victoria TBM being dismantled. All her innards removed and the frame then
moved along and hoisted out (I think?)
The TBM are taken apart by the men who built them - specialists.

A large chunck of Victoria - the whole machine is recycled.
Too heavy to take a momento.

Fascinated by this huge pulsating vacuum that keeps air flowing.

The orange waterproof liner, which includes in the black strips pipes to allow grouting to be
poured in at a later stage if cracks or damage appears - forward thinking.
Tunnels guaranteed 120 years but will last much longer.

A finished main tunnel to the right, the left is a service tunnel.

The east-west breakthrough stretching from Paddington in the west to Woolwich in the east is complete to achieve this it required:

  • 8 tunnel boring machines
  • 7 million tonnes of excavated earth
  • 250,000 concrete segments
  • 3 years of underground construction
  • 42 kilometres of running tunnels
  • 98% excavated earth has been beneficially reused at sites across South East
  • Tunnelling works accompanied by one of the largest archaeological programmes in the UK

Read more about Farringdon Crossrail at

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