Crossrail prepares for 2018 grand opening 08 Mar 2018

Crossrail News Release

A period of heavy underground civil engineering excavation beneath the streets of London is coming to an end as the new Crossrail Elizabeth Line rail infrastructure closes out construction and prepares for a grand opening of services at the end of this year (2018).

Finalising fitout of Crossrail ahead of grand opening in December 2018
Finalising fitout of Crossrail ahead of grand opening in December 2018

To mark this ending of an epic achievement, an historic piece of underground infrastructure pressed into supporting the Crossrail project is being returned to its owners and Crossrail Ltd CEO Andrew Wolstenholme announces that he is to leave the project.

After providing access for a 8m deep x 5m diameter shaft for compensation grouting operations, the historic 102 year-old Grade II listed Kingsway tram tunnel is being prepared for return to its owner, the London Borough of Camden. Crossrail began using the old cut-and-cover tunnel in 2012 to protect surface buildings in the Holborn areas as a 30m deep temporary working access shaft was excavated and the twin TBM bored tunnels of the new railway passed through. The old tunnel also housed a 40 tonne dry cement silo and two 60cm diameter boreholes which were used to convey cement, water, air and electricity to the new tunnel excavation operation below.

The tram tunnel, owned by the Borough of Camden and Westminster City Council, opened in 1906 and connected London’s north and south tram networks, carrying passengers between Holborn and Waterloo Bridge. It was enlarged to accommodate double decker trams in 1929, but closed in 1952 when tram services ceased. In 1953, it was used by London Transport to store 120 buses and coaches in case they were needed for the Coronation of current UK monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. Part of the southern end of the tunnel opened to road traffic as the Strand Underpass in 1964

“As the Kingsway tram tunnel was built to connect one of London’s earliest transport networks, it is fitting that the tunnel helped us build the capital’s newest railway,” said Bill Tucker, Crossrail Delivery Director.

Kingsway Tram Tunnel
Kingsway Tram Tunnel
Double decker tram
Double decker tram

Work to restore the Kingsway tram tunnel and remove visible evidence of its use to support construction of the Elizabeth Line is now underway. The grout shaft has been backfilled, and the concrete floor has been reinstated. The temporary protection for fixture and fittings in the tunnels will be removed, the boreholes backfilled, and the site tidied and repaired. Finally, the iron tram rails will be put back into their original locations, and the site returned to the London Borough of Camden for further purposes that are yet to be announced.

The Elizabeth Line route will pass through 41 stations from Reading and Heathrow in the west, through new twin-bore 21km tunnels to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east. Services are due to commence on the line in December 2018.

Also this week, and as part of the planned demobilisation of the project’s delivery and leadership team, Crossrail Ltd announced that its Chief Executive Andrew Wolstenholme OBE is to step down after seven years in the post and to take up a new role in the private sector and to continue in his role as a non-executive Director of HS2 Ltd, the company charged by the UK Government of delivering new high speed rail line between London and Birmingham. Programme Director Simon Wright OBE, and with experience of delivering the venues and infrastructure at the Olympic Park for the London 2012 Summer Olympic Games, will lead the organisation in a combined role as Chief Executive & Programme Director through the remaining project works.

CEO Wolsenholme stepping down
CEO Wolsenholme stepping down

“Construction of the Elizabeth Line has entered its final stages,” said Sir Terry Morgan CBE, Chairman, Crossrail, “and during the coming year we will be handing over the completed assets to Transport for London, which will lead the final testing and commissioning phase ahead of the railway’s opening in December. Andrew has steered the project with a relentless focus on safety and in a way that delivers wider benefits to the UK in innovation, skills and environmental performance. He leaves the team well placed to finish the remaining construction activity and commence infrastructure testing ahead of the grand opening.”

From the summer, Crossrail will begin handing over the completed infrastructure to system operator Transport for London. The Elizabeth Line route will pass through 41 stations from Reading and Heathrow in the west, through the 21km twin-bore tunnels under London city to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east. When the Line opens in December it will transform rail commuter journeys in the London region.


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