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Impact of Crossrail Construction to be Lessened as Eight Shafts are Removed from Tunnel Design

By Philippa Siguencia Winnings

Shaft construction works and demolition of properties in Hanbury Street are no longer necessary

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, today welcomed news that Crossrail has reached agreement with the London Fire Brigade (LFB) to remove eight of the proposed permanent access and ventilation shafts from the central tunnelled section of the new railway.

This decision will particularly benefit communities in east London where four of the permanent shafts were due to be located. The removal of the shafts means the elimination of construction works impacts, including lorry journeys, in these areas. In addition, a number of properties in Hanbury Street in east London will no longer need to be compulsorily purchased and demolished.

The eight shafts no longer required are located at: Westbourne Bridge W2, Hyde Park W2, Park Lane W1, Hanbury Street E1, Lowell Street E14, Hertsmere Road E14, Blackwall Way E14 and Warren Lane SE18.

These permanent access and ventilation shafts would typically be around 9 metres in diameter, with a structure on top the size of a one- or two-storey building.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said:

"The construction of Crossrail is a truly herculean endeavour and while work takes place it is so important that we continually consider how to keep any disruption to the absolute minimum. This will be the largest infrastructure project in Europe and when complete Londoners will be able to zip between the east and west of the city in record times. We know it will be fantastic and I know Londoners will show great patience while construction takes place. But the decision to remove these shafts from the building plans will be most welcome for communities that would have been affected."

Cllr Lutfur Rahman, Leader, Tower Hamlets Council said:

"East London will benefit considerably from this very welcome decision and one which we have been seeking from Crossrail. We are pleased that Crossrail can meet its safety obligations without local communities across Tower Hamlets needing to face the disruption that the construction of these permanent access and ventilation shafts would have brought. In the areas that were earmarked for these shafts this now means no construction work and no construction traffic and in the Hanbury Street area this also means no demolition of properties."

Crossrail announced in spring 2008 that negotiations were underway with LFB concerning the removal of a number of access and ventilation shafts across Crossrail's tunnelled section. LFB agreed in principle that the shafts could be removed, subject to its overall assessment of Crossrail's fire and evacuation strategy. Today's announcement follows LFB's further assessment of that strategy.

Dr Graham Plant, Programme Director, Crossrail said:

"As the design has developed we have been able to devise alternative solutions and apply lessons from other engineering projects such as the Channel Tunnel Rail Link. CRL has concluded that the project no longer requires these eight permanent access and ventilation shafts and we have redesigned the tunnel ventilation system so that sufficient airflows can be provided with fewer shafts. This approach has been endorsed by the London Fire Brigade, enabling us to meet the twin goals of building a safe railway while minimising the impacts of construction wherever we can."

Steve Turek, Assistant Commissioner, London Fire Brigade said:

"London Fire Brigade has agreed with Crossrail that a suitable and sufficient ventilation system will be provided, meaning that eight permanent access and ventilation shafts are no longer required to be part of the design of the tunnelled route. In the event of an emergency, the evacuation and intervention strategy will involve the use of cross passages in lieu of a number of access and ventilation shafts. Where applicable, passengers will now evacuate through the cross passages into the non-incident tunnel and to the nearest station. The cross passages will also allow the fire brigade to get closer to the scene of any incident in clean air via the unaffected tunnel. LFB will continue to work with Crossrail and the Office of Rail Regulation to ensure effective joint emergency management procedures are incorporated in the design, construction and commissioning of this project."


For further information:

Philippa Siguencia Winnings, Crossrail Media Team, 020 3229 9552, [email protected]

Notes for Editors:

Crossrail progress

The Crossrail Act received Royal Assent on 22 July 2008, granting the powers to build the railway. On 24 July 2008, Crossrail Ltd (CRL) was appointed the lead Nominated Undertaker for the delivery of the railway.

Since then, Crossrail has been moving rapidly ahead and progress includes:

  • New Crossrail Board appointed with five Non-Executive Directors
  • Terry Morgan appointed Non-Executive Chairman, effective later this year
  • Rob Holden became Chief Executive from1 April 2009
  • Tony Gregory appointed Crossrail Complaints Commissioner
  • Compulsory Purchase Notices issued and property acquired at Tottenham Court Road
  • Tender issued for £500m London Underground works at Tottenham Court Road
  • The contract for the Crossrail works at Tottenham Court Road will be advertised at a later date
  • Signing of £230m funding agreement with BAA
  • Signing of £350m funding agreement with the City of London
  • Signing of main agreements underpinning governance
  • Signing of £150m funding agreement with the Canary Wharf Group, with CWG taking responsibility for design and construction of the Crossrail Isle of Dogs station
  • Crossrail appointed DHL to recommend logistical strategy to minimise impact of construction on central London
  • Appointment of Transcend as Crossrail Programme Partner
  • Selection of Bechtel Limited as Crossrail Project Delivery Partner

Crossrail is promoted by Crossrail Limited (CRL). CRL became a wholly owned subsidiary of Transport for London on 5 December 2008.

About Crossrail

Crossrail will run 118 km from Maidenhead and Heathrow in the west, through new twin-bore 21 km tunnels under central London to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east. It will bring an additional 1.5 million people within 60 minutes commuting distance of London's key business districts. When Crossrail opens in 2017 it will increase London's public transport network capacity by 10 per cent, supporting regeneration across the capital, helping to secure London's position as a world leading financial centre, and cutting journey times across the city.

Preparatory works will continue throughout 2009. Main Crossrail construction starts in 2010. Crossrail is scheduled to open for service in 2017.