Some 30 metres under the streets of London, Elizabeth is crawling towards Whitechapel. Since 2009, she and seven other ‘tunnel boring machines’ (also given female names, like ships) have been chomping their way through ancient layers of clay to realise Europe’s biggest engineering project: Crossrail. Having reached the halfway mark last week, the £14.8billion scheme’s projected completion date of 2018 is looking doable. Soon, we’ll all be able to travel from the furthest stretches of west London to the outer tentacles of east London super speedily – and get from Bond Street to Heathrow in a staggering 26 minutes.
Our photographer Rob Greig went down to Stepney Green and Bond Street to take a look at this half-way point:
Crossrail are borrowing the land above the caverns from the Stepney Green City Farm.
Directly behind the drill bit.
The cramped conditions of men on 12 hour shifts at the tunnel face.
Train to transport these slabs.
Temporary track laid to transport the concrete tunnel lining slabs.
Heading toward the twin tunnels in Stepney.
Above the shaft in Bond Street. The delicate operation to avoid damaging the densely inhabited area.
Lining the tunnels.
Sprayed concrete lining of the tunnels heading East.
The tally man’s shack – all those entering the shafts are counted in and counted out again.
Six floors under the streets of Mayfair.
Find out more about transport in London.