The Anonymous Widower

Coal Mining in Whitechapel

I’ve just received Crossrail’s Autumn 2014 newsletter and there’s a section about using coal mining techniques to connect the Crossrail platforms at Whitechapel to the rest of the station and the surface. They say this.

An uphill excavator is being used for the first time in the UK on the Crossrail project. The machine is being used at Whitechapel, before installing the escalators that will take passengers from the platforms (over 30 metres below ground) to and from street level.

Due to difficulties in accessing the station box to dig downwards, Crossrail’s Whitechapel contractor BBMV decided that excavating the escalator barrel upwards, starting from the platform base, was the best solution.

The uphill excavator, traditionally used in coal mines, is being used in an innovative way on the Crossrail project. Built to do two jobs in one, it works its way up by excavating the earth using a digger fixed to the front. With a spray nozzle attached to the top of the machine it also installs the tunnel lining as it goes.

I suspect this won’t be the last place that the technique is used under London. I think it could find applications in connecting stations to the surface in a reversing loop with stations, or perhaps adding step-free access to a deep Underground station.

Whatever happens, it does seem that engineers are throwing conventional thinking out of the window.

Tunnelling certainly seems to be fun!

December 9, 2014 - Posted by | Transport | , , ,

6 Comments »

  1. […] a simple example, could the techniques used at Whitechapel enable Crossrail 2 stations to be built from the deep rail tunnels upwards, thus creating less […]

    Pingback by Crossrail 2 And The Angel « The Anonymous Widower | January 1, 2015 | Reply

  2. […] few months ago, I talked about using an uphill excavator at Whitechapel station to connect the deep level Crossrail tunnels to the other lines. I have also found this article on […]

    Pingback by Will Modern Construction Techniques Create New Stations For The London Underground/Overground? « The Anonymous Widower | January 7, 2015 | Reply

  3. […] When Crossrail opens, Whitechapel station will be the Jewel In The East. And this will not be just about how the station was designed and will look, but about the way it was built. Instead of digging down from the current station to the new Crossrail tunnels, the thirty metres or so long shaft for the escalators and lifts is being dug upwards from the tunnels, using a coal mining technique called uphill excavation. […]

    Pingback by Crossrail 2 Through East London « The Anonymous Widower | March 30, 2015 | Reply

  4. […] 2 Tunnels Under London, I speculated that Crossrail 2 will be dug very deep and that the uphill excavation technique used at Whitechapel will be used to connect to existing […]

    Pingback by Call For Crossrail 2 « The Anonymous Widower | July 18, 2015 | Reply

  5. […] creating the stations will not be as difficult as it would be today. The experience gained on building Whitechapel station on Crossrail, where a technique called uphill excavation has been used, might be […]

    Pingback by The Piccadilly And Victoria Lines, Manor House Station And Harringay Green Lanes Station « The Anonymous Widower | August 16, 2015 | Reply

  6. […] Coal Mining In Whitechapel, I described how the Crossrail contractors were using a technique called uphill excavation to […]

    Pingback by Crossrail Are Uphill Excavating Again « The Anonymous Widower | October 2, 2015 | Reply


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