A new station is being clawed out beneath Whitechapel. In 2018, you’ll be able to catch a direct train from here to Heathrow Airport. Or Maidenhead. Or any other place on the Crossrail route.
The nascent station is at a key stage in its construction. 640 metres of platform tunnels are approaching completion. They were not built using drills or bores, but by scooping out the earth, a metre deep each time, and nine metres in diameter, then shoring up the hole with spray-on cement.
Preparations are underway for the arrival of tunnel boring machines Elizabeth and Victoria, which will push into the station tunnels from Stepney next month. The pace is frenetic. 32 metres below the streets, we witness London’s deepest traffic jam. An army of trucks loop continuously round a circuit. Each collects spoil from the dig face before conveying it round the track to a holding area. A queue of trucks wait the attentions of a heavy-lift crane, which can handle up to 50 tons. On reaching the surface, the spoil is tipped into even bigger trucks, which carry the spoil to barges in the Thames. From there, it’s transported to Essex, where it’s blended into the soils of Wallasea Island, an embryonic nature reserve.
Click through the gallery above to see more details about this huge engineering project taking place beneath Whitechapel.
See also: Canary Wharf Crossrail Station, In Pictures.