This week, the team behind Crossrail, the underground rail project set to run across London and the Southeast, announced that over half the project is complete. Of the 42km network of tunnels, around 90 per cent are finished, which means that six of Crossrail’s eight giant tunnelling machines have been “retired”. The project’s 10,000 workers at 40 different sites will now focus on installing rails, platforms and stations.
Crossail is still on schedule to open in 2018, and overall the project will cost £14.8bn (amazingly, it’s currently running to budget). As infrastructure projects go, this is expensive: the London Gateway project (a giant new port for container ships in Essex) cost £1.5bn, while the pot of money to fund regional infrastructure projects between now and 2021 amounts to £5bn. Crossrail is nowhere near as pricy as the High Speed 2 line, though, which is expected to come in at around £43bn.
To celebrate the progress so far, Crossrail have released some braggy shots of the tunnels’ interior. There’s also, we’re assuming, an element of “Look! This is what we’re spending all your money on! Isn’t it dramatic and excting!” To give them credit, they have managed to make drilling underground tunnels look pretty, well, dramatic and exciting.