September 21 2014 Latest news:
Sophie Morton, Reporter
Thursday, April 3, 2014
Work has been taking place deep underground to prepare an old Victorian tunnel for Crossrail trains to pass through it.
The Connaught Tunnel, which runs below the Royal Docks, was built in 1878 but has been left derelict since 2006, when the North London Line closed.
The 550 metre long tunnel is now being deepened, strengthened and widened to allow up to 12 trains an hour to run through it in each direction.
It is the only disused tunnel to be brought back into use for Crossrail.
Linda Miller, project manager for the Connaught Tunnel, said: “Restoring this beautiful Victorian tunnel is a unique job.
“While the rest of Crossrail has been busy constructing new tunnels and stations, the work here has been more about renovating and strengthening the existing structure to make sure it’s ready for the new trains.”
The central section of the tunnel weakened structurally during the deepening of the Royal Victoria Dock in 1935.
It has survived a direct hit from a German bomb during the Second World War as well as having numerous large ships scrape the top of the structure while in the docks.
Soot from the steam trains that originally ran through the tunnel has also been cleaned from the bricks.
“The Victorians certainly knew how to build a railway,” said Linda.
“It’s testament to the people who built the Connaught Tunnel that, 135 years after it was opened, the brickwork remains in such good condition.
“We have worked very closely with the community in Newham, going into local schools and regularly meeting with local people, to make sure that residents and businesses are kept up to date about the work that we have been doing.”
Crossrail will link Maidenhead to Abbey Wood and Shenfield via central London, reducing travel time and bringing 1.5 million more people to within 45 minutes of the capital when it becomes fully operational in 2019.
Newham will have five Crossrail stations; four that are currently operated by Greater Anglia on the Shenfield branch and a new station at Custom House, which will be served by the Abbey Wood route.