Crossrail Infrastructure

Deep under London with Crossrail

John Zammit

Platform tunnels at the new Crossrail Bond Street station. The 260 metre long platforms run parallel to and around 100 metres to the south of Oxford Street. From 2018, 220,000 passengers are expected to use Bond Street’s London Underground and Crossrail station every day. The walls of these tunnels are constructed using sprayed concrete rather than the ring segments used in the running line tunnels. CROSSRAIL.

John Zammit

Machinery at work in the new platform tunnels for Liverpool Street station. Crossrail is building over 1.5 kilometres of platform and pedestrian tunnels. They are over 40 metres below ground level. CROSSRAIL.

John Zammit

Tunnelling machine Elizabeth at Whitechapel station. The 150- metre long, thousand tonne machine is one of eight used on Crossrail. With almost 90% of tunnelling complete, Elizabeth is one of just two machines still operational. The first machines started work at Royal Oak, west of Paddington, in 2012 and drove eastwards to Farringdon which is also the destination for Elizabeth. CROSSRAIL.

Robby Whitfield

This is Farringdon. When it opens in 2018, it will be a very busy station with an estimated 90,000 daily passengers. The station will be an interchange with Thameslink (London’s north-south heavy rail link) and with London Underground. This could lead to  150,000 using the interchange. CROSSRAIL.

John Zammit

These are some of the platform tunnels at Tottenham Court Road station. Alongside TfL’s upgrade of the existing Tube station, Crossrail is building a new station the length of three football pitches, four storeys below ground. Crossrail estimates that 200,000 passengers will use the new station when it opens in 2018. CROSSRAIL.

Terry Mahoney

The concrete segments show this tunnel to be for trains. It’s at Paddington and shows were the team building the station have broken into the running tunnel in order to complete the station. It lies next to Paddington’s main line station which was built by Brunel.It is being built under Eastbourne Terrace and will be 250 metres long and 30 metres wide. Daily passengers are expected to reach 70,000. Crossrail services run in open air from just west of Paddington as they serve Reading and Heathrow Airport. CROSSRAIL.

Crossrail Infrastructure

Brunel’s Paddington Loco Shed

Crossrail’s archaeologists don’t just dig up ancient skeletons from plague pits in the City of London, they also cover more recent events. Witness their dig just west of Paddington station that uncovered the remains of an early Great Western Railway locomotive depot.

It came complete with inspection pits and a turntable pit – the second that’s been excavated in recent years, with Network Rail’s discovery of York South depot’s pit a couple of years ago.

Crossrail reckons the uncovered remains date from around 1850, when the GWR still used broad-gauge tracks. (They were converted to standard gauge by 1896.) The depot was demolished in 1906 which was a time when the GWR was hugely expanding its London facilities.

Hamish McDougall

An inspection pit from Brunel’s Westbourne Park locomotive shed. CROSSRAIL.

Old Oak Common depot dates from this time and is still used by First Great Western. Crossrail itself took over the locomotive part of the depot, demolishing the remaining turntable (once one of four) in order to build a factory to make concrete tunnel lining segments. Also dating from 1906 are the impressive girder bridges that cross main line on its approach to Paddington.

At Westbourne Park, the 45-ft diameter turntable pit dates from the 1881/2 while the engine shed and workshops are slightly earlier, being built in 1852/3. Crossrail says the engine shed was 202 metres long (not that the GWR was a metric organisation) and had four roads with inspection pits along the full length.


The remains of the turntable at Westbourne Park. CROSSRAIL.

Crossrail Lead Archaeologist Jay Carver said: “Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s Great Western Railway is the most complete early mainline railway in the world. Whenever we expose parts of the original infrastructure it is vital to record these for posterity and the history of rail in this country. Using the latest 3D scan technology provides a permanent and accurate model Brunel’s distinctive architectural legacy.”

The shed is soon to be covered over because Crossrail plans to use the site for turn-back sidings. The area will also include a replacements bus depot and concrete batching plant.




Canary Wharf Crossrail station

Canary Wharf is probably Crossrail’s most eye-catching station. Or at least the roof over it is eye-catching – the station itself is some 30 metres underground with the space in between to be occupied by shops, bars and a cinema. The roof will cover a garden.

These pictures show progress with the roof and all come courtesy of Crossrail.

Robby WhitfieldCrossrail reckons the box that forms Canary Wharf station is large enough that you could place one of the nearby tower blocks sideways into it. This view, with the roof showing the length of the box, seems to support that claim. CROSSRAIL.

Robby WhitfieldThis is the gaping ‘mouth’ of the station roof at Canary Wharf. It’s been designed by architect Foster + Partners. CROSSRAIL.

Robby WhitfieldA lone figure at the roof’s peak gives a sense of scale to the structure. CROSSRAIL.

Robby Whitfield

A final view of the roof at Canary Wharf. CROSSRAIL.

Crossrail is a £14.8 billion project to build a new east-west railway line under central London. It will link Reading and Heathrow Airport to Shenfield and Abbey Wood and should open in 2018. It should add 10% to London’s rail capacity and will bring a new fleet of trains which will be built by Bombardier. It is creating ten new stations and will run through 40 stations.

A central tunnel runs east from Paddington to split under Stepney Green into two routes. Eight tunnel boring machines are digging the tunnels and the map below show progress by mid-June.

Andrew Briffett

You can discover more about the project at