Today I had the extreme pleasure of visiting the new Elizabeth line Farringdon Station, which is part of the new Crossrail. Those of you that follow my activity closely will know that I am continuously striving to make sure that London’s travel projects are delivering on behalf of my constituents, so I had been looking forward to this opportunity to see for myself how the new railway is taking shape All my political career I have been involved in discussions about, campaigning for, and charting of the project right from when it was just a pipe-dream to now – to something very real and exciting that will change the lives of millions of Londoners.
My visit kick-started with an informative presentation by the current Chief Executive Andrew Wolstenholme OBE. The new Elizabeth line station at Farringdon will be the same size as Paddington or Liverpool Street and will span all the way from Farringdon Road to Barbican with an Eastern and Western ticket hall.
The new station platform will be about double the length of a standard London Underground platform and will have sliding electric platform doors (like the jubilee line) for safety and environmental reasons. The new Elizabeth line trains will have walk-through air-conditioned carriages with enough space for 1,500 passengers, plus Wi-Fi and 4G. In terms of accessibility, the station will be fully step-free and the trains will have 4 dedicated wheelchair spaces plus an additional 10 multi-use spaces.
After a Health and Safety briefing, Andrew joined me on a tour of the station with an Escort who was also a project manager for the Farringdon station. It was fascinating to walk from one ticket hall to the next and take a sneak peek at the platforms and concourses as they slowly come to life with the installation of the signs, lights and electrics. One of the most fascinating parts was seeing the escalators being built and to find out that incline elevators will be used instead of standard vertical lifts – to ensure accessibility for all despite the challenges.
The tour was thorough and informative – and there is a clear sense of pride and ownership among everyone working on the project and it is really inspiring to see what a feat of engineering, organisation and co-ordination this whole project takes. From the trains, which are built by Bombardier in the UK, to the station signs that are manufactured in the Isle of White, to the privately funded public art programme for the tube that champions British Artistry, I am sure that every carefully-thought out part of the development will make history in some way.
Most importantly, diversity is a fundamental value of all the work that they are doing. Now they boast 1003 apprentices, 27% of which are female. Crossrail are partners of Women into Construction, an organisation that I have worked with previously and which do incredible work at highlighting role models and challenging perceptions.
Overall the project will see a final return of £42 billion, plus 10 new stations with 24 trains per hour serving 200 million journeys a year. It will support 90,000 new homes plus add an additional £10.6 billion residential and commercial property value by 2021. There is no doubt that the new Elizabeth line will transform the lives of Londoners and I am so pleased to see that it is currently on track to be completed on time. I will be keeping an eye on developments to ensure that promises are delivered on for my constituents and to encourage a timely and successful completion of the project. Well done to everyone at Crossrail!