Although the majority of people arriving at Paddington’s deep underground Elizabeth line station will take the escalators up and out, a small number will take a set of escalators that go down even deeper underground.

The original Crossrail Act in 2008 authorised the construction of a shallow tunnel under Paddington mainline station to link the Elizabeth and Bakerloo lines, but in 2014, this was radically changed to a deep level tunnel, requiring a special authority to deviate from the approved plans.

The main reason for going deep was that subsequent surveys found a risk that subsidence would affect the Grade 1 listed Brunel Train Shed and there would be too much disruption of Network Rail operations and passenger flows on the concourse, and critically due to the residual risk of the collapse of the tunnel face and consequential risk to construction workers and the travelling public.

Essentially, passengers waiting for trains at Paddington station could have found themselves falling into the shallow tunnel being dug underneath them.

So, in 2014, the plans were changed to a deep tunnel.

The £40 million contract was eventually awarded to Costain Skanska Joint Venture (CSJV), who were already building the Elizabeth line station at Paddington. However, to avoid interfering with the new station build, they were able to make use of the empty Royal Mail building close to the Bakerloo line platforms for their base of operations and tunnel across to the Elizabeth line from that side of the station.

What’s been built is a long tunnel, with two sets of escalators, a lift and stairs at either end. As the tunnel is quite long, there are a couple of recessed niches along the route with seating in them should they be needed.

At the Elizabeth line end, the lift and escalators are next to each other, although to fit both in at the Bakerloo line end required the lift to be down a second side tunnel that then brings it up in the main concourse between the two tube platforms. The escalator shaft was squeezed in between the two tube line platforms a bit further down the platform.

It’s estimated that around 11.5 million people a year will use the new tunnel, so it’s going to be quite useful.

It also means that, via a convoluted route, the Bakerloo line platforms are now step-free, as they can use the lifts at the Elizabeth line end to get up to street level. There is however an unrelated project under construction at the moment that will see a lift shaft go direct from the Bakerloo line platforms to street level.

Lift from Bakerloo line platforms to the new tunnel

Side passage leading to the lift at the Bakerloo line end of the tunnel

Escalators between the Bakerloo line platforms down to the new tunnel

From the tunnel up to the Bakerloo line

The new tunnel – looking towards the Elizabeth line end.

One of the two recesses for seating – the decoration is from Brunel’s shed pattern.

It’s a long walk, but much shorter than going up to the street level and back down again.

The escalators linking the new deep tunnel to the Elizabeth line platforms.

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14 comments
  1. Brian Butterworth says:

    Is this tunnel the reason that, in non-standard fashion, the Bakerloo interchange symbol is show grouped with the EL at Paddington in the in-car EL diagrams?

    https://www.urban-transport-magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/52063943270_215abbbae5_k-London-klein-angepasst.jpg for example

    • toby says:

      I think the disability access, the blue rather than white symbol, via the tunnel, is why they are grouped like that.

  2. SteveP says:

    Thanks for the info – do you think they could have squeezed one one seat into that niche? Possibly two? Seems a lot of effort for two seats.

    • alistair twin says:

      the seats are for people resting if the walk is too long for them… presumably the space beside the seats allows for luggage or a wheelchair. but it’s not like there will be people spending an afternoon there or waiting for a train. it’ll be a very rare short duration use… so doubt there will be a queue of people waiting.

  3. Dennis says:

    Wasn’t there supposed to be another tunnel to the district and circle lines? Whatever happened to that plan?

  4. tops says:

    There was a fascinating video on YouTube as part of a New Civil Engineer conference telling the story of that tunnel, specifically the Northern end. The curve and the escalator inching were very tricky tasks. I spent a good while trying to look for it the other day week no success. If anyone knows where it is please let us know. (Thank you in advance if so.)

  5. Joel says:

    Regarding the new bakerloo line ticket hall under Paddington cube, is it true that the platform 11 entrance to bakerloo ticket hall will be permanently closed??
    and commuters will henceforth have to exit the Paddington station and enter Paddington cube, while being exposed to the elements? (Like farringdon)

    • ianVisits says:

      I am sure people wanting to avoid getting wet would walk the 10 yards or so to the main entrance to the Underground in the centre of the station.

  6. DAVE says:

    The latest tube map shows a link to the D&C lines

  7. David Holt says:

    another long transfer trek to add to Tottenham Court Road (Northern to Elizabeth) and Canary Wharf (Elizabeth to Jubilee)

  8. 100andthirty says:

    If the Commissioner ever needs to illustrate to a recalcitrant DfT how important is the need for an upgrade to the Bakerloo line, all he’ll need to do is arrive with them at Paddington Elizabeth line and walk through the link tunnel. At the top of the new escalators the tide mark is, to put it mildly, extreme, especially if a train arrives at the same time squealing its way into the platforms

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