Crossrail: Under Tottenham Court Road Station

One of my personal highlights of Open House Weekend this year was a tour of Crossrail’s new Tottenham Court Road Station (see my other best bits here). The free tours sold out pretty much instantly, but if you missed out, never fear! I’m about to share the whole experience with you here…


Crossrail Tottenham Court Road


Sneaky Design Features


It’s easy to marvel at the huge engineering feat of digging under London, but it’s worth taking a closer look at the details of the new Elizabeth Line, our architect guides Hawkins Brown have spent years developing the colours, shapes and materials that will be in our built spaces.

Here’s some of the things they’ve been geeky out about…




Pretty sure there’s one TFL employer whose sole jobs is to create nifty panels. Turns out there’s far more to cladding than just slapping some granite over the wiring;


Crossrail Tottenham Court Road


Above you can see some panels ready to be attached the walls, these are specially coated in both anti-stain and anti-graffiti paint, which is pretty forward-thinking of them. Other panels also have dots punched into them, much like ones you see on the jubilee line, which help to minimise echoes underground.


But those are the *simple* flat ones…


Crossrail Tottenham Court Road


When working with round tunnels, cast concrete is used for tricky shapes. Apparently they use the largest 3D printer in the country to make a hard wax moulds for these concrete pieces.

Our guide, Kevin, tells us it was 2 years of planning, making sure you had the exact right shape, so they were then able to install them in just 4 hours!


Here’s the finished concrete masterpiece in place;

Crossrail Tottenham Court Road


Colour Coordination


Chatting to the architects, means they very excitedly explain their colour schemes. With the Tottenham Court Road site they’ve gone for deep reds which are meant to evoke theatre curtains and some of the seedier parts of Soho’s past!


Crossrail Tottenham Court Road

Showing off they’re hard work and concept designs…

There’s also more practical features that we were shown too, like this escalator.


Crossrail Tottenham Court Road

On the walls you can spot the dotty panels used for minimising echoes

When finished it will be the second longest escalator in London. Angel – much to Kevin’s disappointment – retains it’s top spot.


Crossrail’s platforms will break other tube records though, having the widest platforms on the tube network (yes – even wider than the double width one at Angel!)


Crossrail Tottenham Court Road

It might not appear that wide here, but to the right of the false wooden wall there’s another metre of commmuter-friendly space

And if that doesn’t float your tube geek boat, then have a look at the first ever installed bench on the Elizabeth Line…


I can confirm it was comfy.


Crossrail Tottenham Court Road

Love the helpful addition of ‘SEAT’ written on the wall behind. Everything’s going to plan so far!


Facts and Figures


So what can we expect from Crossrail when it opens in 2018?


  • Initially 20 trains an hour, then 30 trains an hour.
  • They anticipate 150,000 people using station everyday.
  • The trains will be 200m long (that’s two football pitches!) holding a max of 1,500 passengers.


Find out more from the Crossrail here.


So there you go, an insider peek into Crossrail’s works. Just goes to show you, not all heroes wear capes;


Crossrail Tottenham Court Road

Thanks Kevin!

Did you manage to get on one of the tours? Or find any other gems from this year’s Open House London? Let me know in the comments!


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