In Pictures: Sinking Shafts at Kings Cross


With the scale of works such as Crossrail and the high-technology and machinery involved, it’s easy to forget that working on the Undergound sometimes requires a different approach. Both maintenance and new-build work on the network can be challenging, particularly when it involves working in confined spaces (of which the Tube has plenty), and on occasion a more traditional approach to things is required.

A good example of this can currently be found at Kings Cross. Work has been underway here for a while now on MIP Lift 5, the new disabled access lift which will connect the ticket hall to the Northern Line platforms.

Due to its location and space restrictions, it was not possible to use heavy equipment to carry out the work. Instead, the existing floor had to be drilled through using small bore gear, and the shaft had to be sunk by hand. Two shifts a day would work on the shaft, each completing about two rings-worth of digging at a time. Spoil was raised using rope rigs, and then taken out on railed trucks (complete with their own turntable).

Thanks to Roy de Boy for the pictures.

Written by John Bull
John Bull is the Editor of London Reconnections. A transport journalist and historian, his writing often focuses on the political or strategic challenges facing London's transport network and beyond.