Now that Crossrail has completed all its tunnels (yes, really!), its time for a book to applaud the effort.
And, it is a massive achievement, to have run eight runnel boring machines under London with barely anyone above ground noticing, and to dig by mechanized hand some of Europe’s largest chambers in clay.
One, underneath Stepney is vast — and tall enough to stack three double-decker buses on top of each other.
Such soundbite-friendly statistics abound in this book, which is packed full of glossy photos of the construction sites.
A brief timeline of tunelling lead to a leap of excitement about a tunnel I didn’t know about running from Victoria to Waterloo — until I realised its the one in Liverpool. Rats!
A section on what they do with all the soil dug out — mostly used for landscaping and building nature reserves.
The book ends with a scattering of people who have worked on Crossrail, some in suspiciously clean overalls, but most showing the muck of their work, and their pride in what they have done.
This is a coffee-table book that wont sate the “facts-as-spreadsheets” attitude of the hardened trainspotter, but is a magnificent hymn to the successes of a mighty project.
Anyone interested in London or construction, or who just fancies being left in a good mood, will enjoy flicking through the photos, the quotes and the facts.
The book’s glossy appeal leaves a lingering hunger for the day that its all finished and we can all go down below and see for ourselves what has been carved out of the clay to build what will be the Elizabeth line. A countdown to the first train and an excitement not unlike the wait for Christmas Day.
The first train departs, around Christmas 2018.