Crossrail is London’s new east-west railway which will start running through central London in just over a year. But for Open House 2017, Crossrail opened up some of the nearly finished stations on 16 September.
It was free but you had to reserve your place. I managed to log on around two hours after booking opened and most of the slots were booked out. But I was amongst the lucky ones to get allocated places for Canary Wharf. To manage the crowds, Crossrail have given people a half hour slot in which to arrive. Ours in 14.30 to 15.00. Although we have to queue to get in, it is all very orderly and pretty fast.
So join me now as I venture into the new Canary Wharf Crossrail station. We entered at ground level at what will be the eastern end of the station. After being checked off the list of attendees, we descended the first escalator.
Note the yellow colour on the sides of the escalator. This is part of the design. The stations are going to be mainly monochrome – grey, silver, black. But the escalators will have these yellow sides as a visual wayfinder clue. Yellow not only is a stand out colour against the likes of grey, but of course it is used for the way out signs on the Underground.
Having descended the first escalator, we reach the booking hall area which runs above the platforms.
And who should we meet there but fellow Westminster guide, Julie, who has been doing Crossrail related walking tours with the Museum of London. She said that there had been 1500 tickets available for the day at this station alone.
Ahead we see the bank of escalators which run up to the western end of the station at ground level.
And if you look at the wall in the picture below, you will see a silver strip.
Julie tells us this indicates where the gateline will go. So when the station is full fitted out the area beyond that will be the ticketed area.
Around here are some information panels explaining about the line in general, the archaeological finds and Canary Wharf station in particular.
And then go down to platform level using these escalators.
At the bottom of the escalator we get to see the platform screens which will separate the waiting passengers from the tracks, just like on the Jubilee line extension.
They are nearly all installed but there is one section left to do.
The lighting here is very fresh an it almost feels like daylight even though we are deep underground. We were told that each of the light panels above the doors is highly efficient and uses only to equivalent of a 60 watt light bulb.
Below the lights above the doors will be the train information. This will not only give information about the destination of the train and estimated wait time but also there will be information about how full the train is. That means you can move along the platform to a place where the train is (hopefully) less full.
The trains by the way will have 9 “walk through” coaches but will be much longer than current ones, so will be equivalent to a twelve car suburban train. The stations have been built to accommodate even longer trains, as it is almost inevitable the line will be a run away success and will attract traffic.
And being a modern day station, there are of course lifts to improve accessibility.
So 45 minutes later we head on back to the surface. And here I am doing what you should never do – facing backwards on an escalator.
Overall it was great to get an advance peek at Crossrail (I still cannot get used to calling it the Elizabeth line). The station here, like all the new central stations, is on a huge scale – though it is much the same layout as the Jubilee line station at Canary Wharf, so seems quite familiar.
Each station will have some unique feature to tie it in with its local area. This is what the Crossrail website says about Canary Wharf:
“Sitting below a five storey mixed-use development known as Crossrail Place, the new Canary Wharf station helps connect this key business district to the City of London, the West End and Heathrow. At the same time, it acts as a bridge between two communities – Canary Wharf Estate and Poplar to the north.
The 250 metre-long station box is surrounded by the water of West India Quay dock. Designing a station to be built 18 metres below water level presented significant design challenges but has resulted in optimum access to and through the Canary Wharf Estate while retaining a navigable channel for boats within the dock.
The station ticket hall is accessed via eight long-rise escalators from the promenade level entrances at either end of the building. A visual connection between the station platforms and the concourse level above is achieved through the use of large openings between the two floors and a central spine of vertical circulation reinforced by the use of colour and light. More than one hundred thousand square feet of retail and leisure space sits above the station.
A 310 metre-long timber lattice roof, sheltering a striking roof-top garden, lets in light and rain for natural irrigation. Translucent air filled pillows allow direct views in and out of the building. Sustainably sourced beams provide a warm, natural counterpoint to the glass and steel towers of Canary Wharf.
The nautical reference extends beyond the main structure of the building to the angled design of the buttress ends, anchoring the striking timber lattice roof.”
So there you have the official story. Can’t wait until December 2018 when the trains start running through central London.