In Pictures: Catching up with Crossrail

As readers will no doubt have noticed, we have been somewhat quiet lately. This is, in part, because both Lemmo and I have been involved in the process of moving houses (an exercise at which he has so far proved more successful than I). It largely fell to Pedantic to “mind the fort,” a task he accomplished admirably.

To begin the return to normality, it seems worth highlighting a number of Crossrail photos which have emerged over the last month. These photos largely focus on the tunnelling operation, which is now well underway on both sides of the Capital. We’ve looked at the Crossrail TBMs a number of times before, but it easy to forget that there is an enormous human operation involved in the tunnelling process as well. The photos below nicely highlight the scale of the operation, both human and technical.

Several of the photos also come close to conveying just how alien a world it can be beneath ground in transport tunnels, both during construction and after. This is something that can be hard to appreciate and which is normally not particularly obvious in photographs and videos of tunnelling or active tunnels. The combination of a lack of surface features to provide a mental frame of reference and long sightlines (as transport tunnels generally curve relatively gently) can leave the tunnel visitor feeling both confined and as if they are standing in a wide open space at the same time. It’s a hard feeling to explain, and one that is often amplified by the strange effects that strong lighting can have down below. A number of these photos come closer than most to conveying some of that feeling.

Those looking for more information about the current goings on with the Crossrail stations would also do well to read Ianvisit’s excellent report on the state of play at Bond Street, which we highly recommended.

Working on the arches in the Connaught Tunnel

Working on the arches in the Connaught Tunnel

More work in the Connaught Tunnel

More work in the Connaught Tunnel

The shaft at Stepney Green

The shaft at Stepney Green

Tunnelling at Stepney Green

Tunnelling at Stepney Green

More tunnel work at Stepney Green

More tunnel work at Stepney Green

Looking down at Hanover Square (Bond Street station works)

Looking down at Hanover Square (Bond Street station works)

Tunnelling at Hanover Square

Tunnelling at Hanover Square

Spraycrete work at Hanover Square

Spraycrete work at Hanover Square

Beneath Finsbury Circus (Liverpool Street station works)

Beneath Finsbury Circus (Liverpool Street station works)

Working on the Finsbury Circus tunnels

Working on the Finsbury Circus tunnels

The tunnels at Whitechapel

The tunnels at Whitechapel

Another look beneath Whitechapel

Another look beneath Whitechapel

The tunnels at Westbourne Park (the track is for the TBM)

The tunnels at Westbourne Park (the track is for the TBM)

In the Western Tunnels

In the Western Tunnels

Inside a TBM in the eastern tunnels

Inside a TBM in the eastern tunnels

TBM working in the western tunnels

TBM working in the western tunnels

Laying ring segments in the western tunnels

Laying ring segments in the western tunnels

Celebrating Phyllis laying her 2000th ring, earlier this month

Celebrating Phyllis laying her 2000th ring, earlier this month

Written by John Bull