In Pictures: Tottenham Court Road Reopens

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For almost eight months now, for travellers on the Northern Line’s Charing Cross branch, the next station from Goodge Street has been Leicester Square and from Leicester Square, Goodge Street. Today the Northern line platforms at Tottenham Court Road, which have been closed since 2nd April 2011, reopen.

Anyone who takes a quick glance at the platforms looking for changes will likely be thoroughly disappointed, as at first glance nothing much seems to have gone on – although half of the Eduardo Paolozzi murals have temporarily disappeared, along with most of the roundels. We are left with bare concrete walls and stickers baring the station’s name – “Tottenham Court Road” – spaced out at even intervals along the platform.

So what has happened? Did anything happen?

Many will likely wonder whether TfL have been stretching the truth by claiming that “Northern line trains are not stopping at Tottenham Court Road due to station upgrade works” but actually, the truth is quite the opposite.

Almost all the works have taken place behind the scenes, with most of it not visible to the passing passenger. We have looked at the works taking place at TCR before. In a nutshell, this long drawn-out closure has meant that the existing tunnels could be reshaped, which involved the installation of 1,100 tonnes of new steel tunnel sections. This was so new access routes could be built for a new staircase and lift shaft. These access routes will provide direct interchange with Crossrail services when they arrive in late 2018/2019, as can be seen in the diagram below:

A Tottenham Court Road Cut Away

A Tottenham Court Road Cut Away

When the platform closure started, a temporary miniature railway was built along the platforms to allow plant and materials to be transported to and from the working areas. The existing tunnel rings had to be exposed by breaking out the 104 year old platforms and concrete fill to each individual tunnel segment.

The Miniature Railway

The Miniature Railway

Moving Equipment on the Miniature Railway

Moving Equipment on the Miniature Railway

Moving a load

Moving a load

Next, each individual segment of the 800 tonnes of cast iron was removed and specially manufactured segments were installed in their place. The new segments were made from Spheroidal Graphite Iron, and have a different profile. The new tunnel shape includes new vertical sections and also opening sets that are still circular in profile. They also create space between the original early 1900s tunnels allowing further access routes to be built later in the project.

Work on the Segments

Work on the Segments

These will later be removed for lift access

These will later be removed for lift access

Here the contrast between segments is clear

Here the contrast between segments is clear

Due to the fact that the area around the station is built up (save for the space recently created to make way for the new Crossrail station), access to and from the construction area was severely limited. All materials were delivered via a new 4.5m diameter shaft in small skips that could then be moved manually along the temporary railway. This shaft will eventually be fitted with a lift, which will provide step-free access from the Northern line platforms direct to the ticket hall.It’s from the crane managing this shaft’s loads that some of the aerial photos on our earlier piece were taken.

Looking up the shaft

Looking up the shaft

Bringing down a load

Bringing down a load

Looking through the access tunnel to the shaft

Looking through the access tunnel to the shaft

To provide step-free access from train to platform, a section of the platform is to be raised into a Harrington Hump as with the ‘humped’ platforms on the Victoria line. This can be seen in the computer-generated image below:

The Humped Platform

The Humped Platform

Temporary finishes have been used on the platform floors and walls while brand new tunnels are built for the new Tottenham Court Road LU and Tottenham Court Road Crossrail stations.

Finishing the floor

Finishing the floor

A newly spartan wall

A newly spartan wall

The LU station upgrade will be complete in 2016, with the following improvements:

  • Step-free access from the street to all four platforms
  • Four new or modernised entrances
  • New escalators and improved interchanges between platforms
  • A ticket hall that is almost six times the size as the present one
  • Interchange passageways to a new Crossrail ticket hall at Dean Street
The Penultimate line closure allowed the removal of the platform edge wall

The Penultimate line closure allowed the removal of the platform edge wall

Wall removal whilst a service train sits in the station

Wall removal whilst a service train sits in the station

Written by George Moore