Londonist Rating: ★★★☆☆
An octet of giant mechanical moles recently completed their mission. The eight tunnel boring machines of Crossrail together chewed out some 42 kilometres of new tunnel beneath the streets of London. There's still a long way to go, laying track and fitting stations. The central sections of Crossrail will not open until 2018. Still, the thousands of workers on the project may be permitted a brief celebration of their achievements so far.
This new book coincides with the completion of tunnelling. It captures the project using a dazzling collection of photographs and diagrams. Big Engineering can make for some stunning eye-candy, but the portrait shots of key workers are also exceptionally well taken. The text tub-thumps alongside.
This is a Crossrail publication, and hence the message is all press-release positive. We're bombarded with a fusillade of facts, from the tons of excavated spoil to employment stats. (Crossrail is particularly proud of this latter aspect; so far, it has created 450 apprenticeships and taken on 800 previously unemployed jobseekers.) The book then ends with 40 pages of glowing, full-page quotes from those who've worked on the project. You get a sense that this is as much for them as for the interested public. And why not?
This is far from a comprehensive history of Crossrail, and never pretends to be. Instead, Breakthrough is an unashamedly rhapsodic celebration of an engineering success story.
Buy now from London Transport Museum Shop.
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