E&T was given a preview of the new Farringdon station in London, one of ten new stations linked to the long-awaited Elizabeth line now open to the public.
Say hello to the Elizabeth Line, London’s latest Underground extension which, according to Andy Byford, Commissioner of Transport for London (TfL), is “truly transformative and fully accessible”, and has “incredibly fast journey times” and ” a beautiful, spacious and modern setting”.
Under construction for over a decade, TfL has finally launched the passenger service which travels between 10 new London stations from Paddington to Abbey Wood. The service uses Class 345 trains, which run through the new tunnels under central London, with 24 trains per hour currently in service.
Farringdon, one of ten newly built stations, is expected to be the UK’s busiest and became the first Crossrail station to be handed over to TfL in March 2021. It links the London Underground to Thameslink to provide connections to the ‘outside London, home counties, the City, Canary Wharf and three of London’s five airports.
AND took a tour of the development before its official opening, away from all the crowds, to better understand the construction and design of the station.
Construction work began in 2011 with joint venture Laing O’Rourke Strabag carrying out piling and foundation work at Farringdon. A joint venture between BAM Nuttall, Ferrovial and Kier Infrastructure (BFK JV) took over the site in 2012.
Duarte Seixas, project manager and representative of the BFK JV, has been involved in the Farringdon project from the start. He described the work carried out on the station as an “example of perfect architectural and technical symbiosis”, adding that he was proud of BFK’s ability to turn this vision into reality and that it “will certainly leave a precious legacy behind”. .
When designing the station, the teams took inspiration from the goldsmiths, watchmakers, ironmongers and blacksmiths of Farringdon, Clerkenwell and Smithfields and the Brutalist architecture of the nearby Barbican Centre.
Underground mining platforms connect two new ticket halls. The west end, on the corner of Farringdon Road and Cowcross Street, provides access to and from the Thameslink ticket office.
In the east ticket office, the design references the Barbican Center with heavy metal sliding doors inspired by a barcode for ‘Farringdon’.
As part of the Crossrail Art Programme, passengers can see the work of British artist Simon Periton adorning the walls inside the station. He has produced artwork for each of the two entrances to the ticket office that are inspired by the history of trade and craftsmanship in the region.
At the station’s west ticket office, inspiration was drawn from the neighboring diamond and jewelery district, Hatton Gardens, with 3m high backlit glass panels featuring digitally printed gemstones chosen in pinks , greens and yellows.
Although they have their own unique characters, the two buildings also share a material palette including champagne-colored stainless steel cladding and etched glass panels to provide a unified look between the two ticketing concourses.
As part of this collaborative project, BFK JV took on 82 apprentices and 10,000 people to work on the construction of the station. “The project team has shown continued enthusiasm and commitment to innovation, as well as the use of new construction techniques,” said a BAM representative.
This important transport interchange site had to fit into a complex infrastructure network that lies at depths of up to 30m underground. The location and physical constraints created engineering and design challenges that required a series of custom design solutions.
For example, the station features inclined lifts that travel on an incline rather than the standard vertical motion. Seixas said the lifts are the first of their kind in the London Underground. “[The incline lift] was very difficult to install because it’s not a common thing, but it turned out to be a success,” he said. AND.
Sustainability was also at the forefront of the project. “There was always an effort to see what materials we could use during construction to help reduce our carbon footprint,” Seixas explained. “We [BFK JV] combined our knowledge and expertise to come up with new solutions and looked at what other innovations can be applied to this project in this area.
In fact, it was the first and only resort to achieve the excellent BREEAM accreditation (an industry standard sustainability rating method) in its post-construction review. It achieved this through its dedication to environmental and social sustainability throughout the design and construction stages, according to BAM.
To create the subway station, the team built two vertical shafts at the west ticket office using secant piles. They then searched them using top-down methods to access the station tunnel levels. One of them became the logistics shaft for subsequent excavation works.
Four tunnel boring machines (TBM) used throughout the Elizabeth Line project have completed their journey at Farringdon. To allow progress in the shafts, the team filled their lower part with foam concrete, which the 1,000 tonne and 150 m long tunnel boring machines dug.
According to TfL, due to the complex and difficult ground conditions at Farringdon, very significant grouting was required to compensate for the ground settlement caused by the digging of the tunnel. They also constructed five injection shafts to help stabilize the ground and surrounding buildings during the excavation and tunneling phase.
Two of the TBMs traveled from the West Box Office to the East Box Office. These formed the 7m pilot tunnel for later widening to 12m in diameter to create the platform tunnels using a shotcrete lining technique. When the tunnelers reached the eastern ticket office, they both disconnected and the team buried their tunnel shields in concrete shrouds.
Once these two tunnel boring machines passed through the western ticket office, the construction of its hall and the inclined shaft to allow access by escalators to the tunnels could begin. They grafted the concourse onto the side of the integrated Thameslink ticket office, which was built ahead of the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics, to allow future access to the Elizabeth Line as well as Thameslink.
Now that the station is complete, passengers can access its 12m-diameter platform tunnels from the two ticket halls with a truncated central hall at each end connecting the escalators to the platforms. According to TfL, the flowing lines of the fibreglass-reinforced concrete panels, which will become familiar to anyone using the Elizabeth line, will “provide a clean and elegant setting” for those waiting for trains at this new station.
Facts and figures
Development of the station: Mine
Excavated material: 306,640 tons
244 m passenger deck length
82,000 passengers expected per day on the Elizabeth to Farringdon line
Exchange: Circle, Hammersmith & City, Metropolitan, Trains to Gatwick, Trains to Luton, National Rail
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