The Kingsway Tram Tunnel in Holborn, a unique part of London’s transport history, will be temporarily re-used for Crossrail.
Crossrail’s western tunnels contractor, BFK, is making use of the historic subway, closed since 1952, to build an 8 metre deep, 5 metre wide, grout shaft below the floor of the tunnel.
Grout shafts allow engineers to pump grout (a cement-like substance) deep into the ground to firm it. This will protect nearby buildings from any potential ground movement when Crossrail’s tunnel boring machines reach the area in 2013.
The tram tunnel underneath Kingsway once took passengers from Holborn to Waterloo Bridge, providing a link between the north and south London tram networks. For the past 60 years it has been all but abandoned, given over to several uses including local authority storage, and seldom opened to the public.
Keith Sibley, Crossrail Area Director West, said: “The Kingsway Tram Tunnel has played a fascinating and unique role in London’s transport history. Now it will play a vital part in helping prepare the ground for the city’s most ambitious transport project to date. As the tunnel is a Grade II listed structure, Crossrail will return the Camden section of the tram tunnel to its prior condition when the works are completed.”
Martin Harrison-Putnam, Head of Collections, London Transport Museum said: “The tram tunnel operated for less than 50 years and provided the only link between the north and south London tram networks. Opened in 1906, serving two subterranean stations at Holborn and Aldwych, the tunnel was enlarged in 1929 to accommodate double deck trams. The pioneering decision by London County Council to construct the country’s first tram tunnel was both innovative for its time and now of enduring historical importance.”
The shaft will be completed later this summer before the arrival of Phyllis and Ada, Crossrail’s western tunnel boring machines, in 2013.
Notes to editors:
The tunnel section where Crossrail is working is owned and maintained by The London Borough of Camden with the remaining section controlled by Westminster City Council. LB Camden has worked with Crossrail to agree construction techniques to protect the fabric of the tunnel and the roadway above. Details of how the tunnel will be restored by Crossrail, including reinstatement of tram rails and cobble stones, have been agreed with the LB of Camden.
A number of grout shafts are being built across the Crossrail route, including at Whitechapel and Bond Street. A time lapse film showing the construction of the Bond Street shaft can be found on the Crossrail website at: www.crossrail.co.uk/route/stations/bond-street/news
Crossrail’s western tunnels between Royal Oak and Farringdon (Contract C300) are being constructed by a Joint Venture comprising BAM/Ferrovial/Kier.
Kingsway Tram Tunnel history
The Kingsway Tram Tunnel operated from 1906 to 1952 when trams were removed from London’s streets. Special trams were constructed from non-flammable materials for use through the tunnel, and wooden trams, common on other routes, were not permitted.
Following the ending of tram services in 1952, proposals existed to convert the tramway to a car park or a film studio. In 1953, London Transport used the tramway to store 120 unused buses and coaches in case they were needed for the Coronation. Part of the southern end of the subway opened to road traffic as the Strand Underpass in 1964.
Tram services were re-introduced to London in 2000 with the opening of Tramlink in south London.
The Crossrail route will pass through 37 stations and run 118 km (73 miles) from Maidenhead and Heathrow in the west, through new twin-bore 21 km (13 miles) tunnels below central London to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east.
When Crossrail opens it will increase London's rail-based transport network capacity by 10%, supporting regeneration and cutting journey times across the city. Crossrail services are due to commence through central London in 2018.
Crossrail is being delivered by Crossrail Limited (CRL). CRL is a wholly owned subsidiary of Transport for London. Crossrail is jointly sponsored by the Department for Transport and Transport for London.