Light at the end of the tunnel…
When we describe Crossrail as a ‘big’ project, that’s something of an understatement. Now 75% complete, Crossrail, the UK’s largest ever rail infrastructure project, will comprise 42 km of new tunnels, 10 brand new stations and improvements to 30 other existing ones on the new Elizabeth Line.
Once complete in 2019, a fleet of 66 200m long trains (that’s the length of two football pitches) will carry an estimated 200 million passengers a year. The route will run from Shenfield to the east of London to Reading to the west of the capital, also providing an all-important rail link to Heathrow Airport.
The project will generate around 55,000 new jobs, 57,000 new homes, 3.25m sq ft of new shops and offices, £42bn for the UK economy, with a 10% increase to London’s rail capacity.
With the approach of UK Construction Week (which opens today in Birmingham) Michael was keen to talk infrastructure. He was fortunate enough to get together with Julian Robinson, Head of Architecture at Crossrail, and Oliver Tyler, Partner at WilkinsonEyre – the architects responsible for the impressive design of the new Liverpool Street Station on the Elizabeth Line.
For such a colossal project to be running on time and on budget is a Herculean achievement by anyone’s standards. Michael asks Julian what the secrets to the success story that is Crossrail are (the answer is in the podcast). And on a purely pragmatic level, Michael also enquires as to how all the construction materials and equipment are physically transported to their destination below the ground.
In turn, Oliver discusses the way in which the various architects appointed to Crossrail have had to think ‘volume’ rather than ‘envelope’ when designing cathedral-like underground spaces with a ‘wow’ factor. Michael also asks how much individual expression versus corporate identity WilkinsonEyre has been allowed at Liverpool Street in terms of the architecture. It’s a very interesting reply, but you’ll have to tune in to the podcast to hear it!
A range of architects are involved in the project including; John McAslan & Partners, Hawkins Brown, Grimshaw & Partners, WestonWilliamson, Wilkinson Eyre, Allies & Morrison, Aedas and BDP.