If you’ve been to London, you’ll know their transport system is one of the best in the world. You’ll also know the Tube gets pretty packed during peak hour. To alleviate some of that pressure, a new 15 billion pound railway is being built deep under the city. Welcome to London's Super Tunnel...
The progress so far
In season one, we saw the start of the Crossrail project as massive tunnels were dug under London. Since 2009, eight giant drilling machines have been hard at it, excavating the route of the new railway.
Once complete, Crossrail is going to make a major difference to the overloaded underground. And, for travelling Australian viewers, one of the most exciting things to learn about the project is that travel time from Heathrow into London will be cut from about an hour to 26 minutes.
Walls come tumbling down
When we catch back up with the work, it’s at a crucial phase. The last bit of tunnelling is about to be done. It’s a huge moment and everyone stops to see the wall crack and fall. Now, there’s just the track to construct, the trains to manufacture, the platforms and stations to build…
And it all has to be done as quickly as possible, with as little disruption as possible. OK, there’s a fair amount of disruption. Traffic and pedestrians around the capital have become accustomed to the sheer scale of the work. “There’s always work going on,” complains one commuter as one entrance to yet another station is closed off.
Not just watching a lot of machinery working
Without a doubt, London’s Super Tunnel wouldn’t be half the show it is without Crossrail project manager Linda Miller, the buoyant American pilot and paratrooper-turned-engineer, who previously worked on the building of the launch complex at Cape Canaveral (and is currently in Sydney working on the Metro project). As she bounces around the various job sites – she’s even cheery climbing up and down countless flights of stairs – her enthusiasm for the project is infectious.
There’s also dramatic tension
As the work shifts from the tunnels to the infrastructure, you get a sense of the overwhelming scale of the project. But it’s the little details that provide the drama. Like the fault lines that run through the middle of the work at Farringdon Station. Thanks to the unstable earth and sandy soil that’s difficult to dig, there are real dangers to take into account. Unexpectedly gripping stuff.
Season 2 of London’s Super Tunnel starts Monday 25 September at 8:35pm on SBS. Watch the last episode of season 1 at SBS On Demand: