tcrexitfi - Crossrail: Tottenham Court Road

On this very last day of 2018 we should have now had three weeks of Elizabeth Line services. We didn’t get that. Tomorrow is the year 2019 and no-one knows if the new line will be open in this next year or so. This is just a special post to mull over the delayed line, and to bring people up to date with one of the stations that has received considerably less attention than the others.

Many of you will know I’ve covered Crossrail stations in some depth especially Woolwich and Bond Street. I do keep tabs on the other central stations as far as is practicable, and Paddington, Liverpool Street, Farringdon have all been featured too.

Tottenham Court Road is perhaps the least featured of the lot, possibly because, well, there’s not a lot to see. Everyone knows its been completed the new entrances are in use and we have what is essentially a brand new tube station. But what of the actual station being built in Dean Street?

There’s been quite an advanced stage of construction here at Tottenham Court Road all times even at the Dean Street entrance, and unlike Bond Street, they managed to have open days at Tottenham Court Road to show how well the works had gone and I suppose people sort of forget Dean Street in the midst of all the excitement!

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Before Crossrail popped up here was the historic Astoria…. not forgetting the fountains at the base of Centre Point. Source: Google Streets

In fact these last couple of months there’s been quite a few changes to the Dean Street site and it seems they may well have been on time here had Crossrail been up for a December 9th opening. This includes much clearance of the perimeter fencing around the site, and that quite unusually leaves Dean Street the most visible of all the central Core Crossrail stations because it fronts onto Oxford Street.

With the delays announced to Crossrail – being that it will not open until later in 2019 or as some now say, 2020, – it seems since September 2018 the contractors have been progressing a little slower for there’s no longer the urgency to have things ready by December 2018.

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The historic 1900 Central London Railway station managed to soldier on a bit longer despite no longer being loved by London’s Transport authorities. The new ‘Crossrail’ entrance next door is already in use. Source: Google Streets

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On Thursday 16th July 2009 Crossrail opened its first ever information centre next door to the old Tottenham Court Road station. What happened to this? It was closed and flattened too like everything else around here! The site is to become the new Soho Place.

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The new Dean Street Crossrail building from Oxford Street January 2018.

Because of the official announcement in August 2018 things have slowed down however had they kept up the pace the Dean Street site could well have been ready by December. One of the greatest confidences indicating the progress at Dean Street was the installation of one of its Elizabeth Line roundels in January 2018. The one on the frontage to Oxford Street was installed late summer 2018.

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Above and below: Views of the Dean Street side of the station in early 2018.

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Work began at Tottenham Court Road on 19th January 2009 whilst Bond Street began in 2010 so the former had a bit of a head start over the latter. The Astoria site had had been cleared by August 2010 and the Western (Dean St) site by November 2010). At Bond Street however things were quite rapid for both the Hanover and Davies Street sites were cleared by November 2010. By that time both sites were on an equal footing in terms of progress.

The shafts at Bond Street were completed in July 2012 and Crossrail says this was achieved on schedule. However Dean Street’s shaft did not begin until September 2012 thus Bond Street was several months ahead. Being ahead of the other contestants does not always mean one is going to be the winner. Bond Street may have been the hare and Dean Street the tortoise, but the latter won the race that wasn’t to be!

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The entire Dean Street site perimeter fencing had a photographic essay entitled ‘Soho through a lens.’ This was installed in the site’s early days. Although most of it has now gone this bit by Oxford Street still remains. Dean Street thus has the rare distinction of having pre 2012 hoarding. Only one other central Crossrail site still has hoarding going back that far in time and that is the work site at Holborn, shown below, with its Olympic Games hoardings!

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Yikes! Olympics featured hoardings can still be found on Crossrail sites if one know where to look!

Compared to Dean Street’s progress, the Hanover Street site did not actually start any construction of its buildings until 2018 because of problems with the new ventilation shafts. I couldn’t say whether this was bad planning or what, but it was evident from the press releases by Crossrail the shafts at Hanover Street should have been done by early 2018. This is very interesting because Skanska, the station’s contractors asserted on their project webpage it would be complete in February 2017! It wasn’t!

Conversely its possible some staff were moved over from Davies Street to speed up progress and possibly a reason why Davies Street was pretty much at a standstill throughout 2018. Comparing the two sites again, according to Crossrail the Dean Street site should have been completed in mid 2017. And again it wasnt!

One is not sure how much slippage was being gained and whether Crossrail had real confidence it could get things back on track or it was just grasping at straws in the hope it would achieve an ‘on time’ December opening – even though it may well have meant some of these sites would only open in part. This means of course both the stations on Oxford Street would be accessed via the tube entrances rather than the actual Crossrail buildings themselves.

Nevertheless, as I found – and my pictures show – there had seemed some possibility that Dean Street would achieve a December opening. The announcement in August of course slowed things down but at the end of September 2018 the entire Dean Street site was being cleared, the hoarding had largely gone and it was what one would expect had they been gearing up for a December opening. In some respects had Crossrail still been aiming for a December opening they would have just possibly achieved it at Dean Street despite some outstanding work still needed.

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June 2018. This is the bit which runs through the centre of the Dean Street site. The ticket hall is on the right (north) side. Shops and cafes will be on the left (south side.) I dont know if this new thoroughfare has a name yet. It’ll obviously be a plaza of sorts.

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In late September 2018, despite the announcement that Crossrail would not be opening this year, almost the entire hoardings around the Dean Street site was taken down, giving everyone a first close look at the new buildings.

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Good views could also be had of the new ticket hall – although there wasn’t really a lot to see on the western side of the building at this stage.

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The main ticket hall entrance was kept obscured unlike the rest of the site and that explains why part of the hoardings remained in place at the time. I don’t think they wanted people to see what progress was being made within the entrance area! Its possible they had thought anyone seeing the state of the works may have interpreted it as being late.

The actual Crossrail stations serving Oxford Street couldn’t be more different. Dean Street is very advanced whereas Davies/Hanover Streets are, well you’ve seen what I’ve said about these sites before! That at Bond Street is a total and utter disappointment in terms of progress and doesn’t inspire any sort of confidence when one constantly reads (or hears) Crossrail’s bosses claiming its ‘on time and on budget.’

The fact Bond Street is a much bigger site shouldn’t have really compromised construction timescales. Either the planned projections were grossly over-ambitious or the number of construction workers available at Bond Street was less than the requirement. There were other factors of course, the extent of which we still haven’t learnt fully about to date. As we know, Crossrail and the GLA are still squabbling over who misled whom about the potential delays and budget requirements etc. Very slowly the intricate details of Crossrail’s downfall are being revealed but there is still no complete picture as yet.

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Fareham Street, at the southern extremity of the site. This road has been closed a long time and it looks as if it will open quite soon, perhaps early 2019?

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The contractors’ entrance to the Dean Street Crossrail site. No-one about because its Xmas!

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The frontage on Oxford Street. The first Elizabeth Line roundel was put on the Dean Street side in January 2018. The roundel facing onto Oxford Street itself (covered up too like the other) was put up some six months later.

Dean Street & Farringdon seem to be the only central core stations with external station roundels present. Custom House and Abbey Wood are the only ones outside the central section so far with purple roundels facing the streets.

One of the ironies at Tottenham Court Road is the greatly advanced state of works ensured ‘Crossrail’ signs were put up sometime in 2015! That was done before it was announced in February 2016 it would become the Elizabeth Line. And again, it was at a more advanced state than the other stations (bar Custom House) when it chose to install the first Elizabeth Line roundels to be seen on the sides of the station buildings

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Crossrail signs were put up at Tottenham Court Road long before any announcement to call it the Elizabeth Line. This is the main escalator from the Central Line.

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Other ‘Crossrail’ signs can be seen within the large ticket hall. This one was meant to denote the way through the ticket barriers to the new Crossrail station’s escalators at far right via what is called the Goslett Yard box.

I love this quite ironic conversation on a Crossrail video from 2014. The Crossrail presenter asks Olivia, one of the project’s female staff at the Tottenham Court Road construction site: “When Crossrail’s open in 2018 will you be using the line?” She replies “In 2018 I’ll definitely be using this station getting to Paddington in 5 minutes, getting to Heathrow in 30 minutes for all my holidays and getting to Canary Wharf in 12 minutes.”

The Crossrail presenter continues “Above us is London Underground’s existing Tottenham Court Road station and when Crossrail opens in 2018 millions of passengers will come down escalators through this new ticket hall into our station tunnels.”

Millions of passengers in 2018?? They’re just brimming with confidence! So far the tally of passengers at Crossrail’s new station happens to be zero!

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Crossrail’s own image of the finalised Dean Street station buildings.

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My photograph taken 30th December 2018, to show the difference between the projected image and how it currently stands. There’s quite a significant difference in terms of what remains to be done. Even the paving depicted in the architect’s image is only partially done.

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As mentioned earlier, one can now see the main Dean Street entrance itself quite easily. But before that happened they made sure all the frontage was covered up, so nothing can be seen of the signage or the gateline area within the building itself. As I said one cant be certain whether the state of the works is due to the Crossrail delay itself or the works itself being late. 30 Dec 2018.

We all know now that Crossrail was late and over budget! I’ve often wondered who was it first said those famous Crossrail words ‘on time and on budget?’ Let’s find out!

On 13th December 2007 Clive Efford MP for Eltham said “I hope that the Bill gets a fair wind in the other place and we see Crossrail constructed on time and to budget.”

Nearly right! He’s not the guy we’re looking for though!

On 4th December 2008 apparently The Secretary of State for Transport, Mr. Geoffrey Hoon, came up with the magic words ‘on time and on budget.’ Ever since Crossrail’s been very fond of this particular mantra with Sir Terry Morgan using it right off the bat soon as he became Crossrail’s chairman on 1st June 2009.

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The Transport Secretary seems to be the very guy responsible for the mantra ‘on time and on budget.’ He’s not getting any prizes though!

**The two artists’ images used on this page are from Crossrail’s website.