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Crossrail – Scratching the Surface

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Network Rail is more than halfway through its Crossrail to-do list. The project’s impressive twin-bore tunnels make up less than a quarter of the route; in fact, Network Rail is laying more new track than Crossrail’s own contractors.

Crossrail’s £2.3 billion surface section has involved the construction of a new flyover in Hillingdon and a new dive under tunnel beneath the railway at Acton.

All in all, the surface works project will involve 66 kilometres of track renewals and enhancements, 146 kilometres of OLE and four significant station projects. Overhauls are being completed at Ealing Broadway, Hayes & Harlington and West Ealing. An even bigger transformation is being carried out at Abbey Wood, where the existing station is being demolished to make way for a new interchange.

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Says Mark Carne, Network Rail chief executive, ‘As part of our railway upgrade plan, we are delivering this vital component of the Crossrail programme on time and on budget. There is still a huge amount of work to do but we are on schedule to provide passengers in London and the South East with better connections, quicker, easier journeys and vastly improved stations.’

Andrew Wolstenholme, Crossrail chief executive, said, ‘While much of the focus has been on the tunnels and new stations in central London, Network Rail has been working hard to make sure that the existing railway is ready for Crossrail. This crucial work on Crossrail’s surface section will deliver major benefits for passengers and help to transform many of the areas through which the route will run.’

Derby deployment for Crossrail trains

Transport for London (TfL) has revealed designs for the new-look Crossrail Aventra trains to be built in Derby.

Almost 1,000 rail staff at Litchurch Lane will be forging ahead with the new trains that will hold 1,500 passengers in nine walk-through carriages.

The 200 metre-long trains are fully air-conditioned, accessible to all and come with real-time travel information systems and 4G Wi-Fi.

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Strong lightweight materials and aluminium body shell plus regenerative breaking will make the trains fast, smooth and energy efficient. When fully operational in 2019, Crossrail trains will serve Reading and Heathrow in the west through to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east.

A fitting display

The fit-out of Crossrail’s tunnels is steaming ahead and new images have been released showing the specially built machines doing the work.

Four multi-purpose gantries have been manufactured by Metalliance in France specifically for the fit-out of Crossrail tunnels. The gantries, which are controlled by a single operator, have been laying sections of track in position before they are fixed in place by a 465-metre concreting train.

After placing the 108-metre sections of rail into the tunnel, the gantry then travels along the section laying sleepers and positioning the irons on top.

Most of the track in the central section will be standard slab track. However, short sections of floating track slab, which rest on a bed of rubber bearings and springs, will be used to reduce vibrations on parts of the line that travel beneath concert halls, namely the Barbican in Farringdon, and recording studios.

As well as the track, the fit-out includes the tunnel ventilation, high voltage power, traction power, signalling, communications and overhead line equipment. Work is being completed by ATC – a joint venture between Alstom, Transports Sud Ouest (TSO) and Costain Limited.

Two of the gantries are operating from Plumstead, one from Westbourne Park and the final one is working on the floating slab track in Farringdon.