Crossrail construction turns the corner at Whitechapel for the Elizabeth line’s 2018 opening
- Credit: Crossrail
Work has started to install 10 lifts at Crossrail’s new Whitechapel station complex in east London to make it wheelchair accessible between the street and the platforms 150ft below ground.
The main steel structure of the concourse is now in place, over the existing London Underground and Overground tracks.
Huge ventilation fans have also arrived, ready to be installed in the air shaft in Cambridge Heath Road.
Track-laying for the new Elizabeth line was completed with the final section put in at Whitechapel in August when the last rail clips were fixed by Transport Secretary Chris Grayling.
“Brussels isn’t paying for any of this,” Mr Grayling told the East London Advertiser at the time. “This is a UK project funded by the government and business rates—there’s no EU cheque arriving.”
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Tracks are completed right up to Pudding Mill Lane where the line comes to the surface at Stratford to link up with the Liverpool Street to Shenfield service that was taken over by TfL in 2015, ready to be added to the line next year.
Crossrail’s chairman Terry Morgan admits to feeling sorry about the disturbances to east London with years of street closures during construction.
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He said: “We’ve been quite intrusive, but it will all be worthwhile when Londoners get this new railway.”
Trains carrying up to 1,500 passengers each will relieve the overcrowded Central line, doubling the capacity, running 24 an hour peak time.
All that remains now for the £15 billion Crossrail project is finishing the deep-level stations, including platform safely barriers with screen doors opening simultaneously when train doors slide open, like the Jubilee line barriers between Canary Wharf and Westminster.
A Museum of London Docklands exhibition of archaeological artefacts uncovered during excavations attracted 97,000 visitors earlier this year—beating the record set nine years ago by the Jack the Ripper exhibition.
Crossrail bosses have since commissioned artist Sonia Boyce to start a community artwork project alongside the tracks a mile to the east of Canary Wharf to celebrate east London history. The artwork is to run for a whole mile through Custom House, Silvertown and North Woolwich, one of the longest-ever commissioned in Britain.
The Elizabeth line opens on December 18 next year, with passengers taking just three minutes to get from Whitechapel to Canary Wharf or Liverpool Street, 20 to the West End and 39 direct to Heathrow Airport.