Over and Under: Thameslink, Crossrail and Woolwich Questions

Images bring to life many London Reconnections pieces. We are lucky to have a band of chums willing to brave frostbite, heat stroke and going rusty to capture stuff on our behalf. Therefore our thanks and copyright acknowledgements go to Steam 60163 and Unravelled for these images enabling us to update earlier articles.

Over with Steam 60163

Earlier this year we published an article about the new graded junction at Hitchin. Steam 60163 has assiduously recorded the construction of this viaduct and recently took advantage of a not to be repeated photo opportunity. At a Network Rail charity event local residents were given a guided tour of the soon to be opened link. The tour started at the Hitchin end and proceeded to the junction at the Letchworth end.

flyover

The ECML, looking towards London, passes underneath the highest point of the flyover

expansion

One of three substantial expansion-joints on the viaduct’s track

The east-facing view of the flyover

The east-facing view of the flyover

The transition from flyover to embankment

The transition from flyover to embankment

Under the Flyover

Under the Flyover

A Networker passes the spot where the new line joins the existing Cambridge-Line

A Networker passes the spot where the new line joins the existing Cambridge-Line

The new line, awaiting completion, meets the existing Hitchin-Cambridge line

The new line, awaiting completion, meets the existing Hitchin-Cambridge line

For those interested, the photographic history of the flyover can be found here.

Under with Unravelled

Meanwhile, Unravelled has been following the public demonstration of complex engineering skills that is Crossrail. Inevitably, most of the action is underground but the section from the open-air section from Royal Victoria to Silvertown is taking place before his very lens.

Looking back from Custom House to Royal Victoria

Looking back from Custom House to Royal Victoria, the interlocking sheet piles are in place, prior to the excavation of the Royal Victoria portal

Part of the old NLL Custom House Station remains but its’ days are numbered

Part of the old NLL Custom House Station remains but its’ days are numbered

Tunnel Access

At the north end of the Connaught Tunnel next to Prince Regent DLR, a the concrete slab base has been installed and is currently being used from road access to the Tunnel

Another view of the tunnel access

Another view of the tunnel access

Cofferdams for Crossrail

Cofferdams have sealed off the centre of the docks exposing the roof of the old Tunnel. This scene is moving on from JB’s previous site visit in 2012 and earlier in 2010 (linked at the bottom of this article)

Conditions within the Cofferdams

Unsurprisingly, working within the dock is a muddy business

Work underway in the dock

Work underway in the dock

Note the brickwork and the old service tunnel location

Note the brickwork and the old service tunnel location

Albert Road

Meanwhile in Albert Road, preparations are well underway for the brief re-emergence of Crossrail from the Connaught Tunnel before its dives under the river to what we suppose should technically be South Woolwich

The Scenic Route

Unravelled took the scenic route south that attracted little publicity, until now

The Ferry, with Docklands in the distance

The Ferry, with Docklands in the distance

Post-script: Light, what light?

The progress of new Thames crossings proposals increasingly resembles the baby steps taken in the children’s game “Mother May I?” with TfL announcing a further round of consultations, presumably on the consultations.

This ongoing topic provokes profoundly differing opinions and therefore deserves a fuller article. In best Blue Peter tradition, here is one prepared earlier but not by us. Our chum Darryl at 853 encapsulates the choppy river crossing saga rather nicely. The full history can be found here.

The new road crossing(s) is/are not, however, the only game in town and we are again grateful to 853 for keeping us in touch with the ongoing saga of Woolwich’s Crossrail Station.

Crossrail’s station at Woolwich (developers prefix or suffix of choice to be later inserted here) seems to invoke another outbreak of the mulishness that strikes London’s infrastructure plan de temps en temps. The situation is not without precedent. Readers might recall when the station box at Kings Cross Saint Pancras was built but not fitted out. This was despite challenging safety situations arising at the old widened lines station because of growing Thameslink patronage.

Woolwich station was crowbarred into the Crossrail project by pressure from local MPs, the House of Commons Hybrid Bill Committee and local councils. These included Greenwich’s own Nick Rainsford the former minister for London, who had led the Government’s campaign to reform the British construction industry. A deal was supposedly struck at the time that the developers would build the box in order to facilitate the development of their surrounding site, because it did not make sense to start building and selling property to new owners whose new homes would be then blighted by excavation of a large hole next to their front doors. This outbreak of common sense now sadly appears to be no longer common. This is something that needs to be resolved in short order for truly in the case as our images show, the light at the end of the tunnel really is an oncoming train.

Written by Mwmbwls