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The Build: Creating A Railway

Following the completion of Crossrail’s tunnelling phase in May 2015 a network of new 21km twin-bore rail tunnels to carry trains eastbound and westbound was established and forms the central section routeway. The next phase of the project required Crossrail to install all the equipment necessary to make the new rail tunnels into a fully functioning railway and connect with national rail lines to the east and west of London.

The routeway includes the key systems that interact with the trains and support Elizabeth line services, this includes track, mechanical, electrical and traction power infrastructure along with the shafts and portals, Old Oak Common depot and Plumstead sidings.

In February 2013, Crossrail awarded the contract for a high-voltage power supply, including the provision of traction power, distributed within Crossrail’s central section extending from Royal Oak portal in the west to Pudding Mill Lane in the east, splitting at Stepney Green Junction and running to Plumstead portal in the southeast. This included construction of a feeder station at Pudding Mill Lane where power from the 400 kV National Grid network will be converted down to 25kV before being fed into the overhead line equipment that will power the new Elizabeth line trains. A separate feeder station was also constructed by Network Rail at Kensal Green. Four high voltage auto transformer stations were also constructed at Westbourne Park, Stepney Green, Pudding Mill Lane and Plumstead to maintain the voltage along the line.

By April 2013, Crossrail had awarded the contract to undertake the major fit-out of the new rail tunnels to a joint venture comprising Costain Ltd, TSO and Alstom Transport. As tunnelling concluded, work got underway to fit-out the tunnels with the necessary track, overhead power equipment and services to enable Crossrail to start Dynamic Testing of the signalling and train software in 2018.  The fit out included the installation of over 40km of track, overhead electric conductor rails to power the trains as well as ventilation and drainage systems, 48 ventilation fans, 40km of walkways, 66 drainage pumps, 40km of fire mains as well as lighting throughout the entire length of the tunnels.

Stepney Green Junction_325085

Installation of the track was completed in September 2017. The south east section of the infrastructure was energised in February 2018, with the first test train run between Plumstead and Abbey Wood that month. In May 2018 the overhead lines were powered up between Westbourne Park and Stepney Green.

Approximately 64km of new, permanent track was installed between Westbourne Park through to Plumstead and Pudding Mill Lane.  For further information, please visit Our Journey to Complete the Routeway section of the website.

In May 2012, Crossrail and TfL awarded the lift contract to Kone for the new Elizabeth line stations. The Crossrail project has pioneered the use of incline lifts to deliver step-free access where it is not possible to install vertical lifts. Two of these innovative incline lifts will run alongside escalators at both Farringdon and Liverpool Street Crossrail stations. By July 2012, Crossrail and TfL awarded the escalator contract to Otis for the new Elizabeth line stations.

In the entrances and ticket halls each of the ten new stations will have its own distinct character, conceived by different architects which reflect the environment and heritage of the local area. For example, the new station at Paddington will echo the design legacy of Brunel’s existing building, while the new Farringdon station will take inspiration from the historic local trades of blacksmiths and goldsmiths, as well as the distinctive architecture of the Barbican.

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However, at platform level, common design components such as seating, signage and full-height platform screen doors will create a consistent and familiar environment.  Many of the features synonymous with a railway - such as seating, signage, communications and fire safety equipment, handrails, screens, escalators and lifts – use a set of common parts that employ a clean design language and robust materials to create a consistent and familiar feel for the line.

Multiple entrances and ticket halls, more space below ground and straightforward access to the rest of the transport network will ensure that Elizabeth line stations feel spacious and can cater for future growth in passenger numbers. Step-free access from street all the way onto the trains and straightforward navigation will ensure that the central section stations are accessible for all passengers.

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For the first time in a major UK rail project, the stations, surrounding areas, and the oversite developments, have been designed at the same time. This integrated approach improves accessibility and comfort and will knit the new stations into their surroundings.

Crossrail will dramatically improve accessibility provision along the route and bring step-free access to all 41 stations. All stations will be staffed whenever trains are running, providing for customers the 'turn-up and-go' assistance service already in operation across the London Underground and London Overground networks. 

Her Majesty the Queen visits the under-construction Crossrail station at Bond Street_227845

On the 23 February 2016, Her Majesty the Queen visited Bond Street station as the then Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, announced that the new railway will be known as the Elizabeth line in her honour. The Queen was presented with a commemorative Elizabeth line roundel, and met a wide range of people involved in the construction of Crossrail. This included apprentices working on building the railway, engineers fitting out the station and drivers of the trains that will serve the line.