In Pictures: Crossrail Excavations at Canary Wharf


Last week saw an opportunity to head into the North Dock at Canary Wharf in order to get a closer look at the work currently taking place on constructing Canary Wharf Crossrail station.

The station will ultimately comprise seven levels, from green space at the top to track level below. Three of those levels sit beneath the Dock itself – the lowest shopping level, the concourse and the track level. With excavation and construction of the station box now almost complete, it is thus on these that the photos below focus (mockups of the final station can be found here).

To a certain extent, the photos speak for themselves. As can be seen, a top down construction approach was taken, with Giken tubes used to create the cofferdam within which the work has been carried out. In addition, tension piles have then been used to ensure minimal movement once water is returned to all sides of the dock. The resulting space is larger than one might imagine, the station space running to 256m by 25m. To the south, excavated soil and debris is being used to create a new flood zone – interestingly widening the River Lea was considered an alternative to this approach.

Overall, the resulting box is a large and interesting space and one that, like the works underway at Tottenham Court Road, contains a lot more space and activity than is immediately obvious at surface level. Hopefully the photos below go some way towards conveying this.

Surface/Basement Level

These shots show how large (but compact) the work site is. They also give a good impression of just how tightly it is bound by the water of the dock. The blue pile was the one driven to ceremonially mark the commencement of piling, almost two years ago.

Concourse Level

At concourse level, the box is well concreted and clean. The metal columns in the centre, which stretch to the level below as well, are the plunge columns driven during the top-down construction.

Track Level

It is at track level that the scale of the station becomes truly obvious. The panoramic shot below aims to give a full 360 degree view of the dig, which as can be seen is now being concreted. This has begun at one end, whilst the last remaining excavation (largely of grey, Thanet Sand) takes place at the other. The yellow circle visible in the last photo shows the approximate point at which the Tunnel Boring Machine will break through into the completed box. Walking around at this level is a slightly strange experience, particularly when one considers that the millenia-old Thanet Sand beneath one’s feet has likely been walked over by fewer men than have walked on the moon.

Thanks to Ianvisits for allowing us to reproduce some of his own photos here alongside our own. You can find his full photoset here.

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.