Published: 7th June 2015
The UK’s largest project, London’s £14.8 billion Crossrail scheme celebrated the end of the 26 miles of tunnelling completed on June 4th.. These will enable a brand new railway to operate on an East-west axis under London and in addition, another 8.5 miles of passenger, platform and service tunnels have also been constructed for the new Crossrail stations.
Politicians joined the celebrations with Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin, Prime Minister David Cameron and Mayor of London Boris Johnson visiting Farringdon to celebrate the end of the tunnelling. This commenced three years ago and eight 1000-tonne tunnel boring machines have created 26 miles of new rail tunnels under the capital.
Trains will not traverse the whole Crossrail route for another four years when they will link Reading and Heathrow to Shenfield and Abbey Wood although some trains will run through the tunnels in three years’ time. This is also when the Thameslink project should be completed revolutionising cross-London travel with a combined project cost of around £25 billion. The next stage is to fit-out the tunnels and stations employing over 12,000 people ready for trains to run.
The Prime Minister David Cameron said: Crossrail is an incredible feat of engineering that will help to improve the lives of working people in London and beyond.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: This is a major milestone in the most ambitious rail project this country has seen for decades. The Crossrail project showcases British engineering at its best, and I congratulate everyone involved in this impressive achievement.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “This is a landmark moment for London that puts us a gigantic step closer to the launch of an absolutely vital new railway, which will hugely improve our ability to speedily move people across our city. Crossrail has already created tens of thousands of jobs and helped boost the skills of many thousands of people not just in the capital, but all around our great nation. It is a wonderful example of our nation’s talent for engineering, a talent that must not be allowed to founder and that I hope will eventually be put to use on the construction of Crossrail 2.”
Andrew Wolstenholme OBE, Crossrail Chief Executive, said: “Crossrail is being delivered on time and within budget and will transform how people travel across the capital. Over the last three years, our highly skilled team have worked tirelessly to build these major new tunnels under one of the world’s busiest cities. The challenge now shifts to the complicated and substantial task of fitting out the tunnels and stations to enable Crossrail services to operate.”
Crossrail and Thameslink will create one of the UK’s biggest rail hubs at Farringdon with around 140 trains an hour serving Luton, Gatwick and Heathrow airports, London Underground and international trains at St Pancras International.
The Department for Transport (DfT) says that Crossrail will add 10% capacity to London’s rail network and will serve 40 stations with Transport For London (TFL) running the trains via a franchise which has been let to MTR Ltd.
Since May 31, rail services between Liverpool Street and Shenfield have been operated by TfL becoming the first phase of Crossrail services which will in time, be fully integrated with other TfL services.
London’s population is forecast to increase from today’s 8.4 million to around 10 million in 15 years time so the Thameslink and Crossrail projects are vital to keep London moving. Property prices have boomed on the line of route despite the two projects’ completion dates being three years away.
The surface works being carried out by Network Rail are over one-third complete and all 40 Crossrail stations will feature step free access. Crossrail is being delivered by Crossrail Limited which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Transport for London.
Twenty five years after the Thameslink and Crossrail projects were initially planned, completion of both is now on the horizon much to the relief of passengers.